Big wet brought pain and high prices – 2022 in review

THIS year has been a year of extremes.

With our memory biased towards recent events, the rains and winds that battered the state will come to mind.

The extreme cost increases putting pressure on farmers also hold a spot in the forefront of the farmers’ consciousness.

This year threats were always present.

Foot and mouth and lumpy skin disease endangered our livestock, Varroa mite continued to threaten our bee colonies, the battle against blueberry rust was lost and the damp weather brought continued concerns about disease across the industry.

However, these same extreme conditions have cultivated a year of unique opportunity, something that the Tasmanian agricultural industry has grasped with both hands.

It’s been a year of records, both good and bad.

January started the year with the warmest month on record, which generally flowed over into a much warmer than average autumn, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Winter started slowly, with a drier-than-average season being propped up by a very wet August, those rains sticking around for months to come.

The extreme rain events across October and in November saw 30 locations in Tasmania record their highest spring daily rainfall, with another 25 recording their wettest spring on record.

The floods the massive rainfall totals brought to much of the states North were on par with those in 2016, although early warnings helped many weather the storm with preparedness.

The warm and wet conditions had Tasmanian pastures in overdrive, something the livestock of the state thrived on.

The Landfall Angus stud’s spring bull sale at Dilston equalled the biggest single-vendor sale recorded in Australia, with 241 bulls snapped up at an average price of $13,601, Ram sales were equally hot with Fairbank breaking the Australian record for a Southdown with a $11,000 ram.

It’s worth mentioning that national records were also smashed this year with a Wagyu heifer selling for $400,000 and an Australian White ram fetching $240,000, both in New South Wales.

Dairy similarly benefited with milk prices steadily increasing. Average farmgate milk prices across Australia’s Southern Export regions ranged between $9.50/kg and $10/ kg of milk solids, according to Rabobank.

At this time last year prices were around $7/kgMS.

Crops have seen a mixed year.

In poppies, Kim and Coby Badcock smashed the record yield average with 107.9kgs/ha from their thebaine crop.

This helped their efforts win recognition as the top growers for Extractas for the 2021-2022 season, the first growers to break the 100kg barrier under Extractas/Tasmanian Alkaloids.

However, total crop production continues to slide across both poppy processors in Tasmania.

A protracted battle between potato growers and processors formed from a similarly long battle between potato harvesters and the rain.

Farmers banded together to demand a price increase amid rising costs, with many saying the ends simply did not come close to justifying the means with higher input costs and a wet season not being mitigated.

A deal was eventually reached, but the potato shortage that looms over the country shows just how many farmers could not justify growing the crop this year.

Farms and rural properties were also fetching premium prices.

Van Dairy in the far NorthWest sold off a further handful of properties to supplement the huge sale to TRT at the end of 2021, but it was the sale of Vaucluse that caught the attention.

The 190-year-old, 4400ha property in the Northern Midlands was sold to the Spencer family based in New Zealand in a deal that surpassed $100 million.

Finally, Agfest made a full-scale return, to the paddock, albeit a muddy one.

The showcase of all things country was one of a number of agricultural and rural shows that have risen from the ashes of Covid.