A RECENT report has shown farmers, on average, lost nearly $30,000 in profits over the past 20 years due to climate change.

The report, from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), examined the effects of recent and possible future changes in climate on the profitability of Australian farms.

ABARES executive director Dr Jared Greenville said the report provides a detailed picture of the adaptation challenge facing the agricultural sector.

“Seasonal conditions over the last 20 years have been pretty rough for Australian farmers,” Dr Greenville said.

“Lower average rainfall and higher average temperatures have had a negative impact on farm productivity and profit.

“These conditions have reduced farm profits by an average of 23 per cent, or $29,000 per farm per year, relative to conditions between 1950 to 2000.”

Berrys Creek beef farmer Fergus O’Connor spoke with the Sentinel-Times on how climate change has been impacting the cost of his operations.

“We run a steer operation, and in the last couple of years because of drought and bushfires, the price of steers has gone crazy,” Mr O’Connor said.

“When Queensland and NSW were in a drought, their herds were depleted, and now they’re buying up as much stock as they possibly can, forcing these record prices.

“And that’s a direct link to a changing climate.

“Their herds have all vanished because they have no feed and water coming in.”

Mr O’Connor said with the rising cattle prices, the cost to him was “hundreds of thousands of dollars”.

“When we bought the property nearly 10 years ago, we would stock it for under $40,000,” he said.

“But if we wanted to stock it from zero today… it would cost us over $250,000.”

According to Meat & Livestock Australia’s Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI), as of July 29, 2021, the price of young cattle was 985.5 cents per kilo (carcase weight), compared to 534.2 cents per kilo in 2019.

EYCI measures the seven-day rolling average of young cattle from 25 saleyards across Queensland, NSW and Victoria.