COVID-19 hits farmers’ supply chains, hurts plans to plant
WHEN the drought was interrupted eariler in the year by much-needed signifcant rain, there were glimmers of hope for struggling graziers and farmers across the southwest.
While the follow up rain has been lacking, it looked likely there would be potential for a decent winter crop to be planted.
The coronavirus has changed that outlook.
CRT Roma manager James Colborne said the wait for chemicals, required to ready the ground, and for some fertiliser was now up to eight weeks, with the supply chain severely impacted by COVID-19.
"There was a demand for chemical as there always is after that wonderful rain, but now because of the virus, the Wuhan province in China is where most of our chemicals come from," he said.
"So basically no chemicals have been coming out, all our local stocks were cleaned up weeks ago and the resupply has been interrupted by up to eight weeks.
"That makes a big difference for our farmers and graziers, if you can't get chemicals to keep the paddocks clean, it means you have to consider conventional pillage which is not ideal, because we're trying to keep a layer of stubble on the crop to retain moisture.
"So that impact to the chemical supply chain has big implications for agriculture."
Mr Colborne said it wasn't just in southwest Queensland primary producers were facing these problems.
Most areas of Australia saw significant rain earlier in the year, and so now "every" agricultural sector was demanding chemicals to cash in.
"Fertiliser as well is in high demand, it's put huge pressure on the supplier and we're facing shortages across the country," he said.
"We are very reliant on Chinese imports for so many things, but we hope there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
"Both the chemical and fertiliser industry are moving, but they're not out of trouble. Some brands won't be available until June but people need it next month."
Mr Colborne said the reality was, some producers would be left with no other option than to plant their winter crops without fertiliser.
"The agricultural industry isn't struck down, but it's certainly running into obstacles," he said.
"It's not like the drought, there are alternative plans but they're certainly more difficult.
"I wouldn't want to be a farmer at this point in time."