Climate change is costing farms tens of thousands of dollars a year, a Federal agricultural report claims.
Climate change is costing farms tens of thousands of dollars a year, a Federal agricultural report claims.

The staggering cost to farmers of climate change

CLIMATE change has cost farms more than $18,000 a year over the past two decades, a new agricultural report claims.

The shocking figures, which price the broadacre cropping industry's annual loss in revenue at $1.1 billion a year, were in a report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences published on Wednesday.

Drawing on more than 40,000 farm observations, the report compares farm profits during drought conditions between 1950-99 and 2000-19.

Cropping farms were hit the hardest, with average profits reduced by 35 per cent, or $70,900 for a typical cropping farm.

Average farm profits in Queensland dropped by 14.1 per cent in that same period - a $10,700 difference between 1950-99 and the 20 years this century.

Profits on NSW farms dropped by 25.5 per cent, or a loss of $16,900.

Beef farms were "less affected overall" with an average profit reduction of about 5 per cent but some beef farming regions, particularly southwest Queensland, were more affected than others.

Only farms in the Northern Territory experienced a growth in profits - by $66,800 over that time.

The report said changes in adaptation and management practices helped reduce the sensitivity of farms to dry conditions over time.

"Without these gains the effects of the post-2000 climate would have been larger," the report states.

Farmers for Climate Action CEO Verity Morgan-Schmidt said the report confirms what farmers "instinctively know" about the impacts of climate change.

"The frustrating thing is that every time you get out of bed as a farmer and look out the window, you're seeing climate change unfold around you," Ms Morgan-Schmidt said.

"To simultaneously see politicians sticking their head in the sand, taking a blowtorch to international climate negotiations, it's a sucker punch for farmers already struggling."

A Department of Agriculture spokesman said the Federal Government was already investing in opportunities to support the agricultural sector, including tax incentives, seasonal forecasting tools and the $5 billion Future Drought Fund.

"While this report provides new modelling and data, it builds on an existing body of evidence about the relationship between climate, drought and agriculture in Australia," the spokesman said.

"The government invests in a wide range of programs to drive growth and resilience across the agricultural sector, which aims to be worth $100 billion by 2030."



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