It was late October when Adrian Sparks caught sight of the first smoke rising from the hilly horizon. Within days the haze evolved into drift smoke, which grew thicker as the mountain behind the Mount Pleasant winery in the Hunter Valley caught fire. “It was full-on,” Adrian says. “There was smoke all through November and December. A clear day would still be hazy.
The Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association reports that the Hunter Valley has suffered a staggering $42 million loss in tourism revenue over the last three months. Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon has called on the Government to recognise 'smoke-taint' as bushfire damage, as the Australian wine industry faces a catastrophic harvest season.
The Australian wildfires that have scarred more than 20 million acres of land also figure to damage the country's economy. AccuWeather predicts Australia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020 will fall nearly one percent from a previously forecasted 2.75 percent growth, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia, to 1.90 percent because of the negative economic impact of the wildfires.
As unprecedented wildfires threaten large parts of Australia, the nation’s agriculture industries are counting the cost of the blazes that have scorched pasture, destroyed livestock, and razed vineyards. With the fires still burning and fears of more to come, it’s too early to quantify the damage, analysts and industry officials said.
The fast-moving fire that tore through the Adelaide Hills has possibly wiped out a third of the region's wine production. The Adelaide Hills is one of the most intensively farmed regions in South Australia and it's estimated 25,000 hectares has been burnt. On Kangaroo Island a further 13,000 hectares has burnt.
A wet and delayed feed crop harvest season in the US is being punctuated with reports of fires in grain dryers; however, there are ways to help prevent incidents and reduce the cost of drying, says industry expert. Following a slow harvest with delays related to wet weather, feed grain producers face the challenge of drying grain for storage, said Scott Sanford, an agricultural engineer with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. Little drying is expected in the field at this point.
With thousands of hectares of farmland burnt, countless head of cattle dead and tonnes of crops scorched, bushfires have brought chaos and suffering to farmers in northern New South Wales. A fire in the Clarence Valley at Baryulgil has burnt most of the grazing land on Yulgilbar Station, owned by Baillieu and Sarah Myer and home to a renowned Santa Gertrudis stud.
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