Rural — 23 November 2013

For as long as the sun continues to shine, and there’s no sign of rain, dry weather continue to push parts of far west New South Wales closer to drought conditions, with some graziers saying it’s already arrived.

In the north west of the state, drought-affected farmers are welcoming emergency assistance, which was announced by the state government earlier this week.

In an effort to relieve pastoralists struggling to keep stock fed and watered, the New South Wales Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson announced millions of dollars of extra help to assist producers who are facing extraordinary circumstances. Drought ground

“$7.6 million for emergency support measures, we’re talking about the local government areas of Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett very specifically at this point in time.

“Basically in a nutshell, we are matching what Queensland is currently doing in their state… Queensland as you know, I think the last time I looked, 62 per cent of the state is in drought and it’s heading south, so we are basically saying there is an invisible border here.”

And graziers in far west NSW agree, saying drought doesn’t stop at state lines.

Penne Clarke from Kayrunnera Station, which is 70 kilometres west of White Cliffs, says the region is already suffering drought conditions.

“Like most people west of White Cliffs and in this corner in New South Wales, things are really dry and we haven’t had a significant rainfall event in 18 months.

“We’re in just as bad drought conditions as 2007 – 2008. There are some people here who are carting water every day to their house or to their animals.

“We’re sending stock away, we’re spending money on trucks and on fuel.”

Mrs Clarke says she’s written a letter to the NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson and to the federal member of Farrar Sussan Ley expressing her concern, but hasn’t had a response yet.

“The letter I wrote was calling for some help, some assistance like freight subsidies so you can afford to get fodder to your animals and you can afford to send them away.

“We are at a cross roads, we are down to our core breeding stock.

“Certainly this is not easy farming country but my husband’s family have made a living on this property for nearly 90 years.

“Probably the conditions in the last 11 years have been what we call exceptional, we’ve had the longest drought, then we’ve gone straight into flood and dust disaster and now back into dry conditions.

“It’s beyond the capability here to drought proof yourself from these extreme events.”

This article first appeared on South Australia ABC Country Hour on 22 November, 2013.


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