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Eastern Australia crops devastated by flood and rain

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John Cobb, MP 

Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security  Member for Calare 


Eastern Australia Crops Devastated By Flood and Rain

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Many Farmers will have to spray crop to be able to harvest it, particularly barley and wheat crops flat on the ground due to flood and rain, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, John Cobb, said today.

“I have never seen this before, nor seen barley shooting in the head the way it currently is,” Mr Cobb said.

“Crops are regrowing within their own mass and re-growing of leaf, not just shoots. Meaning farmers will not only have to pick it up off the ground, but kill the newly emerging re-growth to make harvest possible.

“This is a mental trial, as well as a physical and financial trial.

“From not enough, or totally inconsistent rain, to this sort of deluge that has produced these record crops to be faced with an even wetter situation than 1983-84, is mentally devastating, as well as financially.

“Farm families are tough by their very nature and mother-nature has exceeded her previous ability to deal a cruel blow.

“Having said that, the ones that can pick it up and can still harvest crops with all the extra costs involved may be the fortunate ones.”

The recent heavy downpours have caused further crop destruction for farmers, with phenomenal financial losses in excess of $3 billion across the agriculture industry.

“The damage is widespread across the grain country, with thousands of hectares of wheat, barley and canola all rain affected, with most experiencing either direct flood damage or enormous amounts of rain,” Mr Cobb said.

“The situation continues to evolve as farmers take a grim step forward and find ways to salvage what is left, so there is still a real unknown about the final outcome.

“We must wait until the farmers can get back on their country to see what is left, but this means much needed sunshine. Farmers are unable to drive onto their paddocks to assess the damage because it is far too wet.”

Mr Cobb said the big issue at the moment is that we have no real idea how badly damaged the crops will be, nor how much country will actually be unharvestable. It is still very much a waiting game.

With incredibly good seasonal conditions through the growing season, farmers had just started to harvest crops and were experiencing record yields and good prices. Canola was yielding 2 tonnes or better per hectare with excellent oil content and good prices, as were grain prices with yields of 5 tonne

per hectare quite common.

Many farmers have ploughed every cent they had into this years crop in a bid to recover from the past ten years of drought and regain some financial stability.

With the onset of the rain farmers across NSW were at various stages of harvest. In Northern NSW it appears up to 40 percent of the crops have been harvested. In the Central West around 10-20 percent had been harvested before the rain.

However in Southern NSW and Victoria, harvest has barely begun and is shot before it does.

Contact: Richard Hyett - 0487 250 005