Bureau predicts ongoing drought

Bureau of Meteorology nat­ional climate centre chief Michael Coughlan said hopes were fading fast for desperately needed rains, reported The Age (7/9/2007, p. 4).

Food prices tipped to rise: "Is this drought over? Certainly not — we can’t predict when this drought will end," Dr Coughlan said. Murray Darling Basin Com­mission chief executive Wendy Craik said irrigators on the Mur­ray River, including many Victor­ian citrus growers and dairy farmers, faced their worst ever summer. Fresh produce would be hit and food prices would probably rise, Dr Craik warned.

Over half all agricultural land drought-declared: The experts were at a drought briefing in Melbourne organised by the Australian Science Media Centre. More than half of Australia’s agricultural land, including all of Victoria’s, is now drought-declared, costing the Federal Government $1.8 billion so far. Exceptional circumstances funding for many areas will run out in March next year. But the Government may extend the emergency relief, Department of Agriculture drought manager Matt Koval said. That would mean spending hundreds of millions of dollars extra to bail out farmers.

The Age, 7/9/2007, p. 4

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