In a statement, industry association Dairy Australia called on dairy farmers in southern and eastern Australia to be “vigilant” by preparing “contingency plans” for an El Niño climate event.
The warning was issued after the Australian Bureau of Meteorology claimed there is "at least a 70% chance of an El Niño developing in 2014.”
El Niño is an abnormal periodic warming of surface ocean water off the Pacific coast of South America. This change in temperature influences weather across the Pacific Ocean.
For Australia, El Niño is usually associated with below-average rainfall in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.
The Australian dairy industry, lead by the likes of Murray Goulburn Cooperative, is concentrated largely in this region.
In anticipation of adverse weather, Dairy Australia is offering advice to dairy farmers on how best to budget their animal feed "so they have options for different scenarios later in the year."
“Farmers need to be aware that the chances of El Niño occurring are rising and that from the current forecast it is likely farmers may again face drier than average winter and spring conditions across southern and central regions of the country,” said Julie Iommi, issue management manager, Dairy Australia.
“It would be advisable for farmers to start thinking about what planning they need to put in place if feed becomes less available, what alternative feed could fill a shortfall in their regions and how this might affect their operations in the longer term," she added.