The farming / agricultural industry in Australia is one with a long, prosperous history.
But as with any industry, it also has its fair share of challenges, from international pressures to more localised threats. In today’s article, we explore some of the current challenges that face all Australian farmers across the country.
1. International competition
When the local production rate of necessary foods such as beef, fruits and vegetables are impacted due to extreme weather conditions (or even malicious human actions), this tends to lead to the importation of such foods from other countries. Unfortunately, this international competition (which now exists even when production in Australia is at normal rates) has a profoundly negative impact on local farmers.
If big chain supermarkets or stores choose to opt for international produce, that in turn reduces local demand. When local demand drops, farmers can be caught in a situation where the amount of produce they’ve grown and harvested is more than what’s required. The consequence of all this being that they end up out of pocket and can’t earn as much profit off their hard work, and even a portion of their produce may have to be disregarded. The same applies to them having more matured livestock than demanded.
2. Extreme weather
As mentioned in the first point, extreme weather can have a very real impact on production. We only need to think of events such as the 2011 and 2013 floods in Queensland and the way they impacted on the production of bananas. But whether the extreme weather comes in the form of floods, freezing rains, hail, snow or – in a more man-made manner – vicious fires, they can all have a crippling effect.
When extreme weather damages or outright destroys crops, it can take a year or two for farmers to get properly back up to speed. If not assisted in the meantime, this can lead to substantial financial loss and prove a very troubling time for affected farmers.
For farmers that deal with livestock first and foremost, disease is a very real problem. If one animal succumbs to disease, that can cause a type of domino effect where the disease carries and infects other livestock. Not only can disease impact on the quality of the meat, but serious diseases will deem an entire grouping of livestock unusable.
But certain disease types can mutate and go beyond livestock, infecting and effectively destroying crops as well.
4. Climate change
Whether people want to admit it or not, climate change is a very real thing and, over time, its influence will become more prominent. As temperatures rise and conditions become far less predictable, the ramp up in unrelenting weather will hurt farmers. It could be extreme heat, more frequent floods or damaging cold snaps that will all start becoming a more frequent occurrence over the next few decades.
As weather patterns become less stable and more schizophrenic, this will make it harder to prepare for this sudden changes. An increase in extreme weather will also facilitate a possible exponential growth in disease among livestock and crops.
What other challenges do farmers face on a day-to-day basis? Be sure to share with us in the comments below.