December 13, 2004



Australian Wheat Exports to Hit Record Levels


Australia's wheat exports are tipped to increase to record levels in the 2004/05 financial year despite a fall in production, according to the country's chief commodities forecaster on Monday.


The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) said world wheat production was expected to hit a record 617 million tons in 2004/05 despite lower production levels in Australia and the United States.


The expected rise in world production was forecast to push world wheat prices down by about six per cent to $US150 a ton.


With the Australian wheat harvest well under way, production was expected to fall 19 per cent to 20.2 million tons, ABARE said.


The fall reflected an expectation of yields returning to more average levels and the continuation of the drought.


However, after record production levels in 2003/04, Australian exports were forecast to leap 17 per cent to a record 17.8 million tons


But the higher Australian dollar would hit prices paid to Australian farmers, with export earnings forecast to fall to around $3.87 billion from $3.5 billion last year.


ABARE said Australian wheat exports to Iraq remained strong, with half a million tons shipped in the September quarter.

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