Tariff brings price drop

By Daniel Hughes

An 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley exports to China is not expected to have a significant impact on district farming.

However, it will mean farmers who have planted barley will get a lower return.

There are also concerns there will be further Chinese restrictions on Australian products as retaliation to the Morrison Government’s calls for an independent COVID-19 inquiry.

Deniliquin Elders Rural agronomist Adam Dellwo said with the tariff being predicted, farmers had recently been advised to plant other crops, although 80 per cent of the district’s barley was already in the ground by this stage.

‘‘After the announcement on Monday, barley prices dropped around $20 or $30 per tonne overnight,’’ Mr Dellwo said.

‘‘Fortunately, Southern Riverina grown barley is largely used domestically for feedlots and other livestock feed.

‘‘However, it does mean all the planted barley will be sold at a lower price than predicted over a week ago, which will affect the budgeting of  our farmers.’’

NSW Farmers has expressed its disappointment with China.

‘‘China is Australia’s largest barley export market and Australia is the largest supplier of barley to China,’’ a NSW Farmers spokesperson said.

‘‘This disruption causes ongoing market uncertainty when growers are in the middle of planting and will place significant downward pressure on barley prices offered to Australian growers.

‘‘Eighty per cent of barley exports to China are from Western Australia and while most of the NSW crop is consumed domestically, we remain concerned about the closure of a valuable international market and uncertainty for growers.’’

Mr Dellwo said if district farmers can get a good yield from their barley crops it could compensate for the drop in prices.

‘‘We are looking at a good year for winter crops with plenty of rainfall already and more predicted.

‘‘The recent water allocation announcement will also help but we will need more if we are to better prepare for summer crops.’’

NSW Farmers has called on the Australian Government to support Australia’s farmers and exporters by engaging with China to resolve the issue and to immediately pursue the World Trade Organisation Dispute Settlement.

‘‘We very much hope a timely and amicable resolution can be agreed including the removal of duties to enable trade to be re-established, for the benefit of industries in both countries,’’ the spokesperson said.