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Zimbabweans face total famine: country will run out of wheat in three days while 36,000 tonnes of wheat held awaiting payment

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

The OK supermarket in Mbare township is so empty that your voice echoed off the high ware­house roof, according to The Australian (7/9/2007, p. 12).

Ten scones and a dozen cabbages to feed teeming township: “On row after row of white shelving, wiped clean each day, sit a dozen cabbages,” according to the newspaper. “The bakery has 10 plain scones. That is all the food there is in the largest supermarket serving tens of thou­sands of people in the oldest, and teeming, township in Harare. It is 10 weeks since President Robert Mugabe forced businesses to slash prices of all goods and services in the belief that he could crush inflation, which he says is a plot by the Zimbabwean private sector, in collusion with Western governments, to overthrow him.”

Protest and suppression: “Two things have happened: inflation has rocketed and, ac­cording to the Government, the country will run out of wheat in three days,” The Australian said. Zimbabweans appeared set to face an almost total absence of food and ordinary household goods. An eruption of public anger, to be met with violent suppression by Mr Mugabe’s security forces, was likely to follow, observers said. Initially, Mr Mugabe’s June 25 price blitz sparked a gleeful storming of shops, where man­agers looked on aghast as their businesses were stripped at the Government’s bidding.

Govt cannot pay for wheat: Annual inflation in July, a month after the crackdown be­gan, hit a record 7600 per cent. Last week, the value of the Zimbabwean dollar on the black market fell to a new low of 200,000 to $1. “We wonder on what planet President Mugabe lives,” said Wellington Chibebe, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Con­gress of Trade Unions. The country’s main bakery closed one of its largest outlets yesterday because of lack of wheat — a shipment of 36,000 tonnes is being held in a Mozam­bique port because the Govern­ment cannot pay for it.

The Australian, 7/9/2007, p. 12

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WA: Rainfall around much of the state’s agricultural area in July improves rural confidence; farmers optimistic of higher incomes after a dull year

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

Rural confidence had improved slightly in WA, following rainfall around much of the state’s agricultural area in July and strong commodity prices positively impacting farmers’ confidence levels with improvement in wheat prices and relatively strong wool prices, reported Farm Weekly, (30/08/2007, p.23).

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Posted in agriculture, Economics, Grains, Greenhouse Trades, Rainfall, wa, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Completion of Water Resource Plan ensures release of 17,200ML of unallocated water in parts of the Great Artesian Basin, Surat Basin

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

Towns, feedlots, power stations and mines would be able to access 17,200ML of unallocated water being released in parts of the Great Artesian Basin with 7200ML available in the Surat Basin as general reserve water, principally around Inglewood, St George, Miles and Roma and a further 10,000ML to be made available across most of the wider Great Artesian Basin as state reserve water, reported Queensland Country Life, (06/09/2007, p.9) quoting Department of Natural Resources and Water.

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Westpac rounds up farmers in carbon trading plan; mixed farming and beef business operators most aware of carbon scheme stakes

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

Westpac’s head of Regional and Agribusiness Banking, Graham Jennings, said the index results showed some farmers were concerned about the cost and land management implications of carbon trading, reported Queensland Country Life (31/8/2007, p.23).

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Federal Court case: Monaro district grazier seeks billions of dollars in compensation from Fed Govt for carbon credit payments denied to farmers

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

The bid in the Federal Court by Monaro district grazier, Peter Spencer, to seek billions of dollars in compensation from the Federal Government for carbon credit payments denied to farmers, was to come up for a further hearing in Canberra on 31 August, reported The Land (30/8/2007, p.14). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in agriculture, australia, Emissions, Grains, Policy, Vegetation, water, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Agflation: Grain prices to rattle beef, dairy, pork, eggs and chicken: “disaster unprecedented in Australian history” predicts Horticulture Coun­cil chief

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

It’s called agflation and it’s coming very soon, propelled by climate change and drought. Grain prices have hit record levels, and those prices will ram­ify through the feed chain —beef, dairy, pork, eggs and chicken — and reach consumers. Australian Horticulture Coun­cil chief executive Kris Newton says the severe cutback in irriga­tion water could result in price rises, as seen with bananas after Cyclone Larry, reported Asa Wahlquist in The Australian, (15/9/2007, p. 33).

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Qld arm of Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas questions fuel subsidy; warns of ‘serious economic’ hit as oil and food markets compete

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas Brisbane spokes­man Stuart McCarthy warned of “tough (and expensive) decisions” to avoid a serious economic hit. “What we’d like to see come out of the McNamara report (by new Queensland Minister for Sustainability Andrew McNamara) is a big re-po­sitioning of funding for public trans­port,” McCarthy said, reported The Courier Mail (15/9/2007, p.16). He also warns that bio-fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel, while useful, were no substitute for oil.

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Catastrophic: SA pig farmers, lot feeders closing as pork and beef prices will not cover the huge cost of buying barley, at highest price ever, $360 a tonne

Posted by waterweek on 17 September 2007

Mr Ivan Venning , Member for Schubert, told the House of Assembly, South Australia, 11 September 2007: ” I do not know what the answer is, but the house must realise the catastrophic situation we are in:

• The pig farmers and the lot feeders are closing down because the pork and beef prices will not cover the huge cost of buying barley at, say, $360 a tonne. That is the highest price ever, and it is a total aberration because there is no barley.

• The meat meal costs have gone through the roof, so they cannot afford to raise pigs. It is the same with the eggs and broilers for the chooks, and I assume that they would be affected in the same way. It is a very sad situation, and I hope that the minister and others can come on side and, with the federal government, address this situation. Of course, if it rains tonight, it might solve the problem”.

Posted in agriculture, Allocations, Drought, Emergency, Grains, Price, SA, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

SA farmers pre-sell crop; told – at $200 per tonne, forward sell; one sold 3,000 tonnes barley at $200; price now $370, no water, no barley, he’s bankrupt

Posted by waterweek on 17 September 2007

Ivan Venning, Member for Schubert, told the House of Assembly, South Australia, 11 September 2007 said the drought was so severe “.. we are already seeing foreclosures by many of the banks. To make matters worse, we have another anomaly, which is a most unusual situation of the washout of contracts”.

Farmers to pre-sold their crop for the first time; “It is not because of deregulation; but deregulation of our industries, particularly barley, has caused many farmers to pre-sell their crop for the first time. We are told by experts to get advice and, particularly with barley, if it gets to $200 per tonne to forward sell. I know of one farmer who forward sold 3 000 tonnes of his barley at $200 per tonne, and now will not grow a single grain.

Banks are refusing to finance: “ The problem is that the price of that barley today is $370. That farmer has to go and buy 3 000 tonnes of barley for that contract at $370, and it is washed out at $200. That is what is called a `washout’. You do not need to be much of a mathematician to see what that adds up to. That adds up to a massive amount of money plus, in some instances, there is a $40 per tonne penalty. That is horrific. To make it worse, the banks are refusing to finance these washouts.

Drought subsidies not enough: “EC funding is available to a lot of these farmers, but it will not save many of them because of the immensity of the problem. It also affects all other areas of agriculture, not just the grain growers I am involved with. It affects the viticulturalists, the grape growers, the graziers and the haymakers. It is affecting everybody across the whole board, including the rural communities that support them, particularly the agents and the machinery manufacturers. Everybody is involved, even cities such as Whyalla. It is affecting everybody”.

Reference: Ivan Venning, Member for Schubert, House of Assembly, South Australia, 11 September 2007.

Posted in Allocations, Climate, Emergency, Grains, Policy, Price, SA, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

South Australia cuts forecast for total grain production this harvest by 21pc; wheat hits record $US8.49/bushel on CBOT

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

South Australia had cut its forecast for total grain production this harvest by 21 per cent, helping push global wheat prices to a record, reported The Age (7/9/2007, p. B3).

Wheat prices double: The state might produce 5.5 million tonnes of all grains this harvest, down from an estimate of 6.98 million tonnes last month, Rural Solutions SA said in its latest crop report. Wheat prices had more than doubled in the past year as global demand outpaced supply and stockpiles shrank.

Crops dying: Two months of below-average rain and warmer than average weather have prompted reductions to forecasts. “Significant rainfall is needed immediately to stabilise crop yield potential at current levels,” Rural Solutions SA said in the report on its website. “In the driest areas on Eyre Peninsula and the upper north, crops are dying off and will not recover, while other crops have been grazed or cut for hay if they have sufficient bulk.”

Production down more than a fifth: Wheat futures for December delivery rose to a record $US8.49 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on 6 September. South Australia might produce 2.58 million tonnes of wheat, down 24 per cent from the previous forecast, the agency said. Output of barley might be 1.9 million tonnes, 21 per cent lower than the estimate of 2.4 million tonnes a month ear­lier. South Australia was the country’s largest barley growing state.

The Age, 7/9/2007, p. B3

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SunWater customers face reduced allocations, but still have to pay for their agreed water allocation; Nats MP airs farmers’ grievances in Qld parliament

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

Nationals MP Ray Hopper (Darling Downs) told the Queensland parliament on 8 August 2007 that farmers were going broke due to allocations which had to be paid for but did not provide enough water to deliver.

Farmers fare badly due to allocations: Hopper said: “A massive number of SunWater customers have contacted me about their reduced allocations. They still have to pay for their agreed water allocation. The department has to seriously look at this situation. We have farmers out there going broke due to the allocations”.

Crop lost, allocation payment still due: “I know of one potato farmer in Bundaberg who had a certain water allocation so planted a crop taking into account the water that would be given to him and now it has been cut back to three per cent. He is going to lose thousands of dollars in crop yet he still has to pay for the allocation. We have people from St George in the same situation. This is just one example. Throughout the past 18 months SunWater has continued to charge one family business $32,000 per quarter in water charges even though there was little water to deliver in which to generate the cash required to pay those accounts. When they informed SunWater in May of their inability to pay the latest account their remaining water supply was cut”.

“Unacceptable” conditions as farmers mired in debt: “These people were trickling water to grow lucerne and oats to provide drought fodder not only for them but also for farmers in the surrounding area. Their water was cut because they could not pay an account for water that they were not getting. It is simply unacceptable. The minister and his department must look at the situation and help these people. These people received a threat seven days after the account fell due. They had no choice but to further increase their debt, in the middle of the worst drought in history, to meet this demand. The next SunWater account is $32,000 and is due in 20 days. They have just borrowed money to pay their last account for water that they have not got and have been charged another $32,000 for water that they will not get. This is simply unacceptable”.

Only 16pc water availability; 96pc payments due: “For the past 18 months their water availability has been 16 per cent of their entitlement. They have had to pay 96 per cent of the water charges. That is a cost of $125,436”.

Reference: Ray Hopper, Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Water Member for Darling Downs, Member for Darling Downs, First Session of the Fifty-Second Queensland Parliament, Queensland, 8 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 11/8/2007

Posted in agriculture, Allocations, Drought, Federal Election, Grains, Policy, Price, qld, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »