Farmers Continue To Struggle As NSW Suffers Through Worst Drought On Record
Farmers Continue To Struggle As NSW Suffers Through Worst Drought On Record

Drought pushes Kelloggs cereal prices up

Drought has pushed food relief charities into a shortage crisis as breakfast giant Kelloggs announces it will hike up the prices of its cereals due to the ongoing natural disaster.

Demand for help putting food on the table has soared by 23 per cent in NSW in the past year, but the crippling drought conditions have meant farmers are not able to donate produce to charities such as Foodbank because their crops have failed.

Donations of rice and other grains to Foodbank dropped sharply last financial year, prompting the organisation - which delivers 1.8 million meals annually in NSW alone - to write to the federal government asking for emergency funding.

Many farmers in NSW have not been able to grow a crop at all in the last three years due to the dry conditions.
Many farmers in NSW have not been able to grow a crop at all in the last three years due to the dry conditions.

Foodbank chief executive Brianna Casey said rice was one of the most in demand staple foods, which the charity would usually secure through partnerships with local growers, but they have been unable to do so as the drought worsened.

"Due to the national rice crop being severely impacted by drought, we went from having 65,000kg of rice donated to us in the 2017/18 financial year, to just 2,000kg in 2019," Ms Casey said.

"Our supplies are as low as they've ever been at a time when our demand has never been higher."

Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey says the charity is struggling with a shortage of food donations.
Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey says the charity is struggling with a shortage of food donations.

Ms Casey said the crisis had pushed Foodbank to write to Drought Minister David Littleproud and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg requesting emergency funds to buy and transport food for those in need.

"We're waiting to hear back but we've made it very clear the urgency of this situation and hope it's going to take days … not months for answer," she said.

Sheep eat feed dropped in a drought-affected paddock on a property located on the outskirts of Boggabri in NSW.
Sheep eat feed dropped in a drought-affected paddock on a property located on the outskirts of Boggabri in NSW.

It comes as Kelloggs released a statement announcing the company had been forced to increase its list price for cereal due to the "unprecedented" drought conditions driving up the cost of core ingredients including corn, wheat, oats and rice.

"We know Aussie consumers are also feeling the pinch - so this is not a decision we have taken lightly," the statement said.

"We've been buying Aussie grains since we first opened our factory doors in Australia … and even when droughts make crops scarce and prices increase, we will always do everything we can to buy locally and support Australian farmers."

Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has called for a bipartisan drought cabinet to be formed. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has called for a bipartisan drought cabinet to be formed. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said organisations such as Foodbank were best placed to help drought-stricken communities and the federal government should recognise this by offering support.

"We also need to be prepared for the possibility that government assistance be targeted at staple foods like milk … cereals and grains used to make basic products like bread, and of course fruit and vegetables," he said.

"Money invested now might help the budget and save a lot of money later."

A spokesman for Mr Littleproud said the Minister would respond to the letter from Foodbank as soon as he received it.

"Foodbank is doing an outstanding job getting food to people in need, especially during the drought," he said.

"All drought relief proposals are considered."