Australian food producers feel the heat of climate change

October 29, 2015

The more we learn about climate change, the more we discover it’s an issue that can’t be ignored. A recent report provided by the Climate Council, entitled “Feeding a Hungry Nation”, discovered that Australia’s food security is under threat in terms of quality, seasonality, and price.

As extreme weather events throughout the area become more common – driven by alternating weather patterns, intense droughts, and climate disruption – farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to cope.

The damaged climate and unpredictable weather patterns could pose significant challenges to the agricultural competitiveness of the Australian market.

“Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries in the world to climate change impacts,” said Professor Lesley Hughes from the Climate Council.

The problem is already here

The impact that climate change is having on Australian food producers is an issue that already exists, and is predicted to get worse as the years pass. The more the climate continues to heat up, the more the seasonality of food will change, and the overall safety and quality of produce items would be affected.

In terms of food safety, the problem is huge. Many of Australia’s favourite foods – including wine, vegetables, fruit, beef, and milk are already being affected. Low rainfall and rising temperatures have created lower yields in crops throughout Southern Australia, while Cyclone Larry led to the destruction of 90% of the banana crop of Queensland during 2006 – an event that saw prices of bananas jump a whopping 500%.

Produce future prospects

As the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts, bushfires, cyclones, and floods continue to grow, the results across Australia will be decreased productivity within the agricultural sector, fewer options in food, and higher prices across all markets.

The concept of debilitated agricultural production could also damage Australia’s economy, as the value of agricultural commodities was estimated at around $50 billion during 2014.