Australia is experiencing a slightly unsteady market at the moment, and circumstances could soon become even more unstable. The nation appears to be set for yet another year of persistent drought.
A lack of rain wiped out the profits of many farmers last year. The federal government had to dip into allocated savings to reimburse farmers who lost out on any chance of bumper crops as the climate continues to grow warmer.
As the same problem threatens Australia once again, there are worries that the country’s economy will suffer in the long term if it is no longer able to rely on crops to contribute to its GDP.
The upcoming year marks the seventh consecutive one of drought for farmers in Queensland, and the knock-on effects are compounding issues as regional areas begin to struggle from a lack of income. Local officials are calling for more government funding, particularly for building and improving roads and rails to make rural areas more accessible so that help can arrive to save crops before it is too late.
The discrepancy of rainfall between different parts of Queensland is noticeable. While some northern areas of the state had an influx of rain in December from a record-breaking downpour, almost 60% of Queensland remains completely dry. The state is 2.5 times the size of large US state Texas, which indicates just how far and wide rainfall needs to distribute in order to maximize crop growth. If Queensland can forge better connections with other parts of Australia through transportation, then local officials believe that they can make more of the rainfall that the region actually does receive.
Those producing grain and managing dairy farms should be hit the hardest this year due to having fewer hardy crops and animals, and the average agricultural profit per farmer is likely to drop by at least $13,000 across the year. If these droughts continue to carry on, then there will be little scope for crops to provide a meaningful contribution to the Australian government’s income, and the country will need to source them from elsewhere.
The federal government is not dismissive of offering help, and back in August, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $3.5bn fund to fight droughts in Queensland. However, many communities want additional money to build up local links and reduce the amount of isolation that currently exists, which would help more farmers work together in controlling drought devastation.
Outback towns are under the most duress, and in Boulia, located 1,700 kilometers northwest of Brisbane, Mayor Rick Britton is worried that another drought could finish many farmers off for good. He said: ‘If we go into another dry season, you know, a lot of these properties are going to close down, and I do not know what the long-term outcome is going to be after that.’
In a bid to combat some of the expected loss from droughts, Queensland has designated 2019 the Year of Outback Tourism to try and encourage citizens to visit isolated areas and bring money to struggling regions.