CANBERRA, March 5 (Xinhua) -- A devastating drought has wiped 5.8 billion Australian dollars (4.1 billion U.S. dollars) off the value of all that is farmed in Australia in two years.
In its latest commodity report, released on Tuesday, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) forecast that the value of agriculture production in 2018-19 would be 58 billion Australian dollars (41.1 billion U.S. dollars) compared to 63.8 billion Australian dollars (45.2 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016-17.
The report found that three quarters of dairy farmers and half of all broadacre farmers would receive a lower income in 2018-19 than in 2017-18.
It found that a dramatic drop in production on the east coast because of the crippling drought was partly offset by a bumper harvest in Western Australia (WA) and that a falling Australian dollar softened the blow.
"Drought in the eastern states significantly reduced the 2018-19 winter crop, but one of the largest Western Australian harvests on record has provided a buffer to the national total," the report said.
"Average farm cash incomes on broadacre farms in WA are projected to increase from 368,000 Australian dollars (260,829 U.S. dollars) per farm in 2017-18 to 490,000 Australian dollars (347,282 U.S. dollars) per farm in 2018-19.
"At the national level, the average farm cash income for dairy farmers is projected to decrease from 160,900 Australian dollars (114,035 U.S. dollars) per farm in 2017-18 to 93,000 Australian dollars (65,912 U.S. dollars) in 2018-19."
Despite a poor year, ABARES predicted a 4-percent increase in farm production in volume in 2019-20, assuming average seasonal conditions.
If conditions are average, it said the value of agricultural production would be worth 59 billion Australian dollars (41.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019-20, rising to 61 billion Australian dollars (43.2 billion U.S. dollars) by 2023-24.