Farmers battling through drought

Farmers living in western NSW around Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett have been preparing and actively making decisions to mitigate drought for more than 12 months but we have now reached a critical point, NSW Farmers Association said today.

As part of our ongoing efforts to highlight the current situation and to gather evidence about decisions farmers are making, NSW Farmers contacted farmers in these areas in early October. The information collated has revealed that almost all had destocked with herd levels now right down to core breeding stock.

NSW Farmers Western Division spokesperson Wayne Newton said farmers had decided to sell stock or send them away on agistment but with the north of the state becoming increasingly dry, agistment was becoming more difficult to obtain.

He said with very little decent rain since February 2012, many farmers in cropping areas had taken the decision not to sow crops or to sow less than normal.

“For those who did sow, many have grazed their crops out to help sustain livestock,” Mr Newton said.

“Some farmers have no water for their household and domestic needs and are carting in water.”

Calls made by NSW Farmers to drought affected farmers revealed that the average spend on the drought to date was approximately $150,000 per farmer most of which was being spent on feed and transport.

The information gathered by the association has been passed onto the Regional Assistance Advisory Committee, the Minister’s office and service providers in the region. 

Earlier in the year, NSW Farmers wrote to Minister Hodgkinson, Minister Humphries and Troy Grant as the Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources about seasonal conditions. The association has also regularly raised the matter with the Regional Assistance Advisory Committee which reports to the minister.

Mr Newton said that farming was about managing the risks of the climate including during dry times and during a drought.

“Our climate is unpredictable which is why farmers are always looking at ways to prepare for the unexpected. Sometimes you can do all you can but at the end of the day, you can’t make it rain,” he said

Bourke’s average annual rainfall is 354mm but it has only received 170mm in the past 12 months, Walgett’s average is 479mm but it has only received 228mm and Sydney’s average is 1,215mm but by comparison it has received 1,205mm.

Contact: Veneta Chapple

Phone: 0429 990 218

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