Australia blames El Niño for output slump
AUSTRALIAS Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) said poor rainfall in much of eastern Australia would lead to below-average crop yields.
It laid the blame at the feet of the El Niño weather system.
Crop yields are forecast to fall nearly 12% in the year to June 30 1998 from last years A$15.4 billion (US$11.26bn/£7bn).
Total production of winter crops is expected to decline 28% to 24.7m tonnes, compared with last years 34.5mt record.
Wheat production in 1997-98 is expected to reach 16.2mt – more than 30% below last years record.
ABARE predicted a slight fall in world wheat consumption as makers of livestock feeds increasingly switched to lower-priced corn, coupled with the European Unions re-imposition of export taxes on wheat in late April.
It reported a record 2.5mt of cotton lint produced this summer, and a 48% rise in rice production.