Government drought preparedness initiatives need to be maintained long-term: NSW Farmers

 NSW Farmers president Derek Schoen. Photo: File.
NSW Farmers president Derek Schoen. Photo: File.

While the Prime Minister’s recent visit to drought affected Trangie in central west NSW was welcome, a peak body representing the state’s producers say they would like to see the Government’s preparedness initiatives maintained long-term.

During the visit to the property of local farmers Phil and Ashlea Miles no financial assistance was announced, but Mr Turnbull and other senior government ministers discussed potential solutions to the drought gripping close to 60 per cent of NSW.

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“We were happy that Malcolm decided to come out and view first hand the troubles that some primary producers are facing with drought,” NSW Farmers president Derek Schoen said.

“It’s very disheartening when you’re out there, soldiering on on your own and you think no-one’s listening, so it is important that those that can help in some way are seen to take notice.”

Mr Schoen said he would like the Government to announce a transport subsidy for farmers.

“But also we would like to see long term that the initiatives that the Government has put in place to assist farmers with preparedness, are maintained,” he said.

“And primary producers are encourage dot take them up to prepare themselves and are ready for the next one.”

According to the Department of Primary Industries Combined Drought Indicator (CDI), which is used to inform policy and Government responses to changing seasonal conditions, including drought, 75.9 per cent of central west NSW was in drought onset.

The data reveals 19.7 per cent of the region is in drought and 4.5 per cent was on drought watch.

In western NSW, 45.5 per cent of the region was in drought watch, 44.3 per cent was drought onset and 9.9 per cent was in drought.

Photo: Department of Primary Industries website.

Photo: Department of Primary Industries website.

“It’s gotten incredible dry right across NSW and some areas have been in drought for 6 years with only one year of reprieve and its hard to weather that all the way through,” Mr Schoen said.

Despite the little rainfall over many years in north west NSW, the drought map indicates that the region is just 12.5 per cent in drought, while 55 per cent is drought onset and 32.5 per cent of the area is on drought watch.

“The north west of NSW is extremely dry. They haven’t had any decent rain for going on 6 years. It’s very disappointing that they are not even on the drought map,” Mr Schoen said.

Despite the dry conditions, Mr Schoen said we all have to come to the realisation that preparedness is not going to stop a drought.

“It is only going to assist you in coping with a drought,” he said.

Mr Schoen encouraged primary producers to have a drought plan in place so that when they do enter a dry period they will know their trigger points, they will then be able to make a decision that will safe guard their business.

“We have to be mindful to those who do take preventative measures, or have acted early to ensure they’re not in a desperate situation, are not disadvantaged by those that have not taken any action,” he said.