Fears of key food shortage in Australia

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Rice growers fear La Nina will cause issues with production

A major agricultural company is concerned that the “headache” of La Nina will hamper the production of a staple food item.

Australia’s major rice grower has flagged that La Nina is causing issues with production, with ongoing concerns that wet weather could impact preparation.

SunRice, an Australian company that exports grain around the globe, has written to shareholders to say that the weather pattern is “proving a headache” for rice preparation.

Though the extra rain has been a “great thing for rice production generally,” according to chairman Laurie Arthur, the “threat of flood is also front of mind for many growers” with delays already occurring.

More water is generally a good thing for growing rice, but floods mean growers can’t plant seeds

“I have been speaking with a number of growers and I know that rice preparation has been extremely challenging, and some plantings have already been delayed,” he said.

“This has been the case on my own farms here at Moulamein where I have had recorded rainfall at levels not previously seen at this time of year.”

The company has extended some relief to growers, opting to not enforce a “washout clause” that would see growers charged if they do not meet a committed volume of paddy.

“I am aware that some growers are concerned that they may have the washout fee enforced for the CY23 pool, even if they were unable to plant through no fault of their own – but as a consequence of the ongoing wet conditions,” he said.

“In light of these concerns, I wanted to let growers know that the company has considered the washout clause and has decided that this year (CY23), the washout fee will not be enforced in the event that growers are unable to plant as a result of the wet weather conditions.”

Generic Farm. Rice

La Nina is to blame for floods currently ravaging Australia‘s southeast, with Sydney recording its wettest year on record in 2022.

The Bureau of Meteorology expects that while the weather pattern will grow weaker over spring, it is “likely to persist into early 2023”.

“The Bureau of Meteorology’s extended and long-range forecasts show that above-average rainfall is likely across much of eastern Australia. This reflects the influence of several key climate drivers,” a recent report says.

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