Australian drought threatens to push wheat prices higher

SYDNEY, (AFP) – Drought could wipe out Australia’s wheat crop despite expectations that the country’s worst dry spell for a century was easing, Trade Minister Warren Truss warned Tuesday. “In many parts of Australia there has been some relief and a quite large wheat crop was planted,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Sydney.

“It’s disappointing to hear reports now that the crop is deteriorating especially in New South Wales and parts of Victoria.”

Australia, the world’s third largest wheat exporter, already has “a very substantial assistance programme in place for Australian farmers and that’s ongoing. Farmers will continue to have assistance while the drought is going on.”

He said farmers are pinning their hopes on rain that is projected to fall on these areas over the next few days, and “let’s hope it’s a generous one and that it revitalises the crop.

“It would certainly be devastating for farmers if we were to have another poor wheat crop following on last year’s sort of almost record low,” Truss said. “The world prices of grain at the present time are exceptionally high and Australian farmers had been looking forward to taking advantag