Australian farmers look to import grain amid drought

Despite building stockpiles of hay and grain for their livestock, farmers across Australia are asking the government to import grain to help them weather the two-year-long drought.

Photo by Andrea Gantz
Photo by Andrea Gantz

Despite building stockpiles of hay and grain for their livestock, farmers across Australia are asking the government to import grain to help them weather the two-year-long drought.

The entire state of New South Wales is in a drought, and the state’s government last month said it would provide a AUS$500 million (US$372 million) emergency drought relief package to help farmers affected by the dry conditions.

According to a report, cattle are becoming sick because they are eating too much hay and not enough grass, and they are ingesting too much dirt. Forecasts show no significant rainfall is expected in the coming months. The stockpiles farmers had built up are not enough.

Australia has strict quarantine regulations to guarantee the country’s biosecurity, so importing grains from other countries is very difficult.

Feed hoarding, higher prices

Meanwhile, a report said some operators in Australia are hoarding livestock feed to artificially inflate prices. Because animals are in desperate need of hay and grain during the extreme conditions, prices have skyrocketed. However, there is no law against stockpiling and hiking up prices when there is high demand and short supply.

Niall Blair, New South Wales’ Minister for Primary Industries, has appointed a Drought Transport Subsidy Integrity Adviser to investigate reports of grain being stockpiled to artificially escalate prices, as well as look into transport companies jacking up prices to cash in on farming freight subsidies.

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