“Global warming set to hit hard this summer” – or so predicts the front page of the Courier Mail newspaper this morning. To soon to tell? The Bureau of Meterology has already predicted a warmer spring in the Australian tropics, with 60-70% chance of exceeding the median minimum spring temperatures and a 55-70% chance of exceeding the median maximum spring temperatures.

Article from: The Courier-Mail

Kerrie Sinclair and Michael Madigan

September 18, 2007 12:00am

FOOD prices are about to soar, the national economy hit hard and even a day at the beach could be ruined by the effects of climate change.

Three new sets of research point to the far-reaching implications global warming is set to have on everyday life in Queensland – as early as this summer.

New figures to be released today are expected to warn of a significant cut to the nation’s wheat crop, a result which would flow through to spiralling prices for basic staples such as beef, pork, poultry and dairy.

But it is not only wheat farmers hurting as the nation’s worst drought marches inexorably on, with the Federal Government yesterday pledging another $430 million to help primary producers across Australia.

Increased temperatures are also likely to bring the return this summer of foul-smelling algal blooms that have previously plagued southeast Queensland’s coast, delivering another blow to the tourism industry.

AgForce grains president Lyndon Pfeffer said while Queensland had enjoyed patches of winter rain, continued drought in southern NSW and Victoria had “knocked the stuffing out of a lot of the crops – as well as a lot of farmers’ hopes”.

Mr Pfeffer said that in central Queensland, where harvest is set to begin any time now, wheat crops were “still hanging on”, while southern Queensland conditions have improved after some recent rain, and there were pockets where there were chances of decent yields.

But Queensland’s overall wheat production would be below average, he said.

Prime Minister John Howard announced the extra drought assistance to pump up the exceptional circumstances program – to add to the $2.4 billion already spent.

“We will stand as a government shoulder-to-shoulder with you through this terrible drought,” Mr Howard said.

“Fortunately this nation is strong enough fiscally and is strong enough economically to give help to our fellow Australians so desperately affected by this terrible drought.”

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics is today expected to cut its forecast for the 2007-08 winter wheat crop to between 15 million tonnes and 20 million tonnes, from its June forecast of 22.5 million tonnes.

Rabobank Queensland manager Justin Harrison said the ABARE report will “confirm the picture” of a global shortage in wheat supplies which last week drove the wheat price to a record $US9 ($10.70) a bushel.

He said if international grain prices remained at record high levels and if the US and Canadian wheat-growing seasons can’t ease the global wheat supply shortage, the effect on Australian consumers would be spiralling prices for basic staples such as beef, pork, poultry and dairy, as those producers passed on higher wheat input costs.

“As to what levels consumer prices go, only time will tell and much will depend on how the crop planting season goes in the US and Canada,” Mr Harrison said.

ot stock numbers cut, and the pork industry is already talking about cutting their overall numbers. That would lead to consumer prices for those products going through the roof.”

Rabobank Queensland manager Justin Harrison said the ABARE report will “confirm the picture” of a global shortage in wheat supplies which last week drove the wheat price to a record $US9 ($10.70) a bushel.

He said if international grain prices remained at record high levels and if the US and Canadian wheat-growing seasons can’t ease the global wheat supply shortage, the effect on Australian consumers would be spiralling prices for basic staples such as beef, pork, poultry and dairy, as those producers passed on higher wheat input costs.

“As to what levels consumer prices go, only time will tell and much will depend on how the crop planting season goes in the US and Canada,” Mr Harrison said.

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