The changing climate is costing every farm, on average, $30,000 every year, experts say. 

New stats from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) show that decline in rainfall from 2001 to 2021, compared to 1950-2000, saw farm profits reduced, on average, by 23 per cent, or $29,000.

The risk of farmers receiving very low returns due to climate variability has doubled during that time. 

The states also show that Australian farm productivity has significantly increased, with broadacre operations now producing almost 30 per cent more than they did in 1989.

ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said grain growers have increased productivity by 68 per cent despite the weather challenges in the last 30 years. 

“New technologies and practices mean that farmers are able to grow crops under lower rainfall conditions than they could in the past,” Dr Greenville said.

Looking forward, the authority says that climate change will continue placing pressure on Australian farmers in coming decades.

Cropping farms in Western Australia are expected to be “more heavily impacted than other regions under most climate scenarios, due largely to the more substantial projected declines in winter rainfall and the resulting effects on crop yield”.

“While the most severe projections show large reductions in farm profits – up to 50 per cent nationally – these results do not account for adaptation,” Dr Greenville said.

ABARES believes technology will drive productivity gains further, but “Climate change could still reduce the international competitiveness of Australian farmers, relative to other nations, particularly if Australia's main competitors are not affected by climate change to the same extent”. 

The report comes alongside calls from the federal government for expressions of interest for $34 million worth of drought-resilience innovation grants, which will be funded by the Future Drought Fund.

More details are available here.