Aug 17, 2018

Why the big dry and what it means for workforces

After the driest autumn in over 100 years, widespread drought across key parts of agricultural Australia is affecting crop prospects and communities.

Between March and May 2018, rainfall in Australia was a hefty 57mm below average. This marks 2018 as the driest autumn since the 1902 Federation drought.

Large swathes of New South Wales, western Queensland, eastern South Australia and north-west Victoria have been affected, with the BOM saying decent rain may not arrive until February next year.

Why so dry?

BOM senior climatologist Dr Blair Trewin told the ABC that, in the case of New South Wales, dry conditions are being caused by the non-appearance of the weather systems which usually bring rain.

“During the summer, you’re often looking at a feed of tropical moisture, when you get moisture feeding in from the tropical monsoon coming south,” he said. “But that didn’t really happen this year. All the rain stayed in the tropics.”

Devastating impact on producers

The worsening big dry is having a significant impact on some of our farmers. At Agri Labour Australia, we’re seeing cases where broadacre growers and storage and handling clients are expecting shrinking harvests next year because of the 2018 drought.

Knock-on effect on labour demand

Many dry land farming regions are in damage control which means a vast majority of casual and seasonal labour is on hold until it rains.

Fortunately, there are some commodities that remain unaffected by the drought, including our horticulture and poultry clients. There are plenty of roles still available year-round within these industries.

We can all lend a hand

To support those worst affected by the drought, there are a number of admirable charities in place that offer tangible support for farmers and their families.

Agri Labour Australia has pledged its support to ‘Buy A Bale’, where you can purchase hay, water, groceries, diesel to carry hay or make a general donation.

Other Agri Labour Australia-approved charities include:


– Agri Labour Australia

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