Main content area

How drought affects the financial characteristics of Australian farm businesses

Kingwell, Ross S., Xayavong, Vilaphonh
The Australian journal of agricultural and resource economics 2017 v.61 no.3 pp. 344-366
drought, economic impact, farm size, farms, finance, livestock production, Australia
The financial performance of 240 farms in a drought‐affected agricultural region of Australia is analysed. The decadal study period included some years of widespread drought, as well as years with only subregional droughts or no drought. Some droughts created larger adverse financial impacts than others. Mostly, the more droughts farms experienced, the worse was their financial performance relative to farms within the same quantile of farm performance. Despite the incidence of drought, by the end of the decade, almost all the farm businesses were wealthier from increasing their farm size and becoming more crop dominant. Unexpectedly, consecutive years of drought had a significant positive effect on the operating profit per hectare and retained profit per hectare of farms in a majority of their respective quantiles. Many farms that experienced consecutive drought were forced to make structural changes, shifting away from livestock production towards additional cropping. These structural changes boosted farm performance over the decade. The incidence of drought affected some measures of farm performance differently whilst others were affected similarly. Understanding these metrics of farm performance and the structural changes underway in an agricultural region helps form a more complete view of drought impacts.