Farm incomes to fall due to drier conditions and lower prices

ABARES executive director Dr Jared Greenville.

After two record years, broadacre farm incomes are forecast to fall significantly in 2023–24 due to drier conditions and lower prices for agricultural commodities, especially livestock.

ABARES executive director Dr Jared Greenville said that, at a national level, average farm cash income for broadacre farms is expected to decrease 41 per cent to $197,000 per farm in 2023–24, representing a fall in incomes back to levels seen three years ago.

“Livestock farms will be affected by large decreases in prices for beef cattle and sheep, with sheep farm incomes forecast to be well below average,” Dr Greenville said.

“We are expecting incomes well below the long-term average in parts of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland and the northern parts of the Western Australian cropping zone, mainly due to drier conditions resulting in lower crop yields.

“Incomes are also forecast to be well below average in parts of southern Victoria and South Australia, as well as parts of Tasmania and Western Australia, due to a combination of dry conditions and declining sheep, lamb, and wool prices.

“It’s important to note these numbers are based on price and weather forecasts from early September. Prices for cattle and sheep have fallen further in recent weeks so there is likely more downside risk to these forecasts than upside at present.”

ABARES is now providing quarterly updates to farm performance forecasts with the next update due in December.

“By linking ABARES farm and CSIRO production models with Bureau of Meteorology seasonal weather forecasts, we can now provide more timely updates on how seasonal and market conditions are affecting the farm sector,” Dr Greenville said.

“This is a significant step forward from the forecast we have traditionally provided once a year.”

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