How does drought affect farmers?

Drought presents challenges for dairy farmers and can impact their livelihood. Drought can increase the price of feed, water and other farming costs, placing financial and emotional pressure on farmers.

Last updated 17/01/2024

Drought is significantly affecting farmers in East Gippsland, Northern Victoria and parts of New South Wales and Queensland, while all other farmers are also affected by the drought to some degree because of increased feed and water costs.

Drought can increase the price of feed and deplete water stores for animals and other farm uses. During these times farmers often need to make tough decisions which can affect their health and wellbeing.

Climatic variability such as drought presents significant challenges for Australian farmers and their communities, including dairy farmers.

In Australia, while dairy cows mostly graze on pasture they also feed on forage crops and bought in feeds, such as grain and hay. Up to 25% of Australia’s milk is produced from the grain included in the diet of dairy cows.

Dry conditions can reduce the ability of dairy farmers to grow feed and can also impact the availability and cost of bought in feed. Drought can also deplete water stores for animals and other farm uses.

Current dry seasonal conditions across much of Australia have driven up feed and water prices, due to high demand and limited availability. This is impacting all farmers with the cost of grain alone being felt in all dairy regions.

During challenging seasonal conditions, dairy farmers are encouraged to plan ahead and take action to prepare for the season ahead. The dairy industry provides farmers with a range of tools, information and support to assist in making the right on-farm decisions during these tough times.

Drought can also affect farmers’ health and wellbeing as they often need to make tough decisions that can impact the welfare of their cows, the employment of their farm team, and the future of their business.

Farmers are encouraged to stay safe, look out for each other and connect with industry and their communities.

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