Tuesday, 7 January 2020
By Kat Jack
Australia is currently facing extensive and severe bush fires, including in several key dairying regions. Some farmers have lost livestock and pasture, while others not directly hit by fire still have to deal with loss of power and loss of transport access - milk can’t get out, and feed can’t get in.
The Australian dairy industry has already been struggling for some time with an extended drought, which has driven declines in dairy production across this season and last. The multi-year drought and tight feed supplies pushing up costs have pushed down the national herd size and production.
Available production data doesn’t yet show the impact of the fires. According to the latest figures, Australian dairy production in November 2019 was down 3.4% on November 2018 - the smallest year-on-year decline in 13 months. However the impact is likely to come through more strongly as later data becomes available.
This could have a knock on effect on global milk supplies, as Australia is one of the world’s key dairy exporting regions. Both the Australian government and the USDA had forecast year-on-year declines in production for 2020, and the fires seem set to make this worse.
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