Australian consumers may have to pay more for their favorite fruit and vegetables in the coming months after the latest flooding damaged major agricultural areas in Victoria, New South Wales (NSW) and Tasmania.
While touring the flood-stricken areas in Victoria and NSW, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said continuing rains would cause produce prices to rise.
“Tragically, there had been such a good harvest anticipated in wheat, in fruit and vegetables, in so many of the products that the Victorian food basin … is such a rich area, as well as in areas like poultry,” Albanese told ABC Melbourne. .
“There’s no doubt that there will be an impact… and the impact will feed into higher prices, most unfortunately at a time when inflation has already been rising.”
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, who joined the prime minister to assess the flood damage around central western NSW, said repeated floods had badly impacted prime agricultural regions.
“It’s likely that these floods are going to have a cost of living impact on people because of the impact of prices of fruit and vegetables,” he said.
The minister said the department of agriculture was trying to work out the financial damage on agricultural production inflicted by the flooding in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
“I think that we can expect that it is going to be a very large dollar impact,” Watt said.
As the flooding continues, federal and state governments are discussing extra support for flood-hit farmers.
Response from Farmer Associations
Meanwhile, in Victoria’s north, where floodwaters are still rising, farmers are counting the damage to their properties.
Victorian Farmers horticulture president Nathan Free said that fruit trees such as apples, pears, peaches, nectarines and plums were significantly affected and might not produce a crop in the coming season.
“We won’t see it today and tomorrow, but we’ll see it for the year to come,” he said in comments obtained by AAP.
In addition, Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano said it was too early to tell the total damage to food production and prices.
“Floodwaters have significantly impacted many parts of the agriculture industry,” she told AAP.
“There will be significant impact and disruption coming through our supply chain in the coming months.”
In its latest winter crop forecast, RaboBank said that while farmers in some parts of the country would see record crops, many across NSW and Victoria were facing yield, volume and quality downgrades caused by unfavorable weather conditions.
“Across New South Wales, parts of Victoria and southern Queensland, we expect to see less hectares harvested than were planted due to excessive rains either at planting, during the growing season or leading right into harvest,” RaboResearch agricultural analyst Dennis Voznesenski said.
The bank expected NSW’s grain and oilseed production to reduce by 28 percent compared to last year and said that more wheat crops would be downgraded to feed quality this season.