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Australian Rice dogged by drought
The Australian
THE rice harvest will suffer its third successive drought-caused fall, according to the summer crop outlook by the Government's agricultural forecaster.

The harvest could be as low at 430,000 tonnes compared with 1.2 million for the five-year average.

But the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics forecasts the national summer crop of rice, cotton and sorghum will be up an average 13 per cent on last year's severely reduced crop

. Rain late last year in northern NSW and southern Queensland boosted sorghum plantings by nearly 16 per cent and the area sown to cotton by 59 per cent.

ABARE manager of commodity forecasting Vince O'Donnell said: "Cotton has increased a fair bit, but at the same time it is still not up to the five-year average."

He expected cotton lint production of 551 million tonnes in the year to June, compared with a five-year average of 673 million tonnes, and a peak production of 806 million tonnes in 2000-01.

Last week SunRice, the trading name of the Ricegrowers Co-operative, announced the retrenchment of 75 staff from its mills.

Overall staff numbers have fallen to 800, down from 1400 before the drought. Three mills, in Echuca and Yenda, closed earlier in the drought.

The rice harvest is due to begin at the end of this month. SunRice CEO Gary Helou said the company could not support the current level of operations.

"Unfortunately some jobs have to become redundant, but we have done it in a way where we have an operating plan that keeps all the mills open," Mr Helou said.

ABARE reports the 2004-05 winter crop - wheat, barley, oats, canola and legumes - was 31.5 million tonnes, down 22 per cent on the previous year's record crop.
MGR Archive 20.2.2005
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Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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