Bush feels $1.3b bite

WA’S rural economies are going to be more than $1.3 billion poorer this year after drought impacted heavily on the State’s grain harvest.

After three years of bumper harvests, Cooperative Bulk Handling estimates total grain receivals for the 2000-01 season will be 7.5 million tonnes. Last year it received 12.1 million tonnes.

WA Farmers Federation grains specialist Andy McMillan said the poor yield meant equipment purchases were likely to fall.

“It’s unlikely a farmer is going to be walking into a dealership and paying cash for a new header next year,” Mr McMillan said.

“Farmers are likely to be going to their bank managers with very tentative budgets and looking to consolidate their debts.”

Primary Industries Minister Monty House has even asked the banks to go easy on farmers.

Mr McMillan said many farmers would probably not take their post harvest holidays and could be considering whether they could afford to send their children to boarding school.

WA rural conglomerate Wesfarmers is expecting a downturn in its CSBP fertiliser business thanks to the lack of finishing rains this year.

The WA Government has set up the Seasonal Advisory Committee to evaluate farmers’ needs.

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