Farmers are going without food in order to feed their stock and are wondering how to cope from week to week according to the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn which this week launched an urgent appeal to help farmers in our local region.
With 99 per cent of NSW in drought and no relief in sight, many farmers are in dire need of assistance but are reluctant to seek help, the organisation says.
The severity of the drought gripping the Southeast and West of NSW has prompted Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn to launch a specific appeal for this area which extends from Lake Cargelligo in the west, across the Snowy Mountains to Tumut, down to Eden, up to Batemans Bay and inland to Crookwell.
Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn president Warwick Fulton said they have 25 teams of Vinnies volunteers on the ground in these areas who know the local circumstances and want to provide support for farmers and their families.
“Vinnies is so concerned that the drought has placed farmers and their families under an incredible amount of stress that we have launched a drought appeal,” Mr Fulton said.
He said that while Vinnies NSW is providing support across the state, Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn is focussing its attention on helping farmers in need in the local area.
“There’s hardly a blade of grass left in the paddocks and farmers and graziers are doing it tough and so are the townspeople,” Mr Fulton said.
“The graziers will feed their stock rather than themselves and they’re going hungry.
“My volunteers are telling me that they’re under extreme stress and they don’t know how they’re going to cope from week to week.
“We want to try to turn that around for them.”
Mr Fulton said that farmers are perhaps a slightly different group from those they normally assist but their aim is to focus on those in need.
“We place our resources where there is greatest need and right now we can see that people in the bush are suffering extreme hardship.
“We know that Australians share our concerns and are always willing to make a contribution to help farmers in crisis.”
Braidwood farmer says it will be ‘dire straits’ unless there is rain soon
Chair of the Southern Tablelands branch of the NSW Farmers Association, Ian Cargill, said that if there isn’t rain soon and then a decent Spring, “it’s going to be dire straits.”
Mr Cargill owns a 1500 acre property about 10 kilometres from Braidwood and also leases around 5-600 acres. He runs 400 cows and 600 sheep and said they were already “pushing hard” before winter, as they didn’t have much of a spring last year and summer also wasn’t good.
“It’s very dry,” Mr Cargill said. “We’ve got dams that are dry. Half my place has been de-stocked and what are normally creeks are now bog holes.”
He said the drought is so widespread that there’s nowhere to buy hay from.
“You can’t buy hay in NSW because it’s all been used up,” Mr Cargill said, adding that farmers also went through a bad drought in 2000 to 2002.
“The biggest trouble this time is that there is no feed – it’s just so hard to secure feed.”
Mr Cargill said that in the Braidwood area farmers know in May that the feed they have on the ground is all they have until September and so he had made provisions early and ordered hay back then but one order he didn’t receive for five weeks. He is also buying grain and pellets for the sheep.
“We’ll get through to Springtime but if we don’t get rain before then and a decent Spring then it’s going to be dire straits for us and a lot of people.
“If this continues to Christmas like they’re talking about that means there won’t be hay made this year.”
Mr Cargill said he and his neighbours have got to a stage where they just don’t talk about the drought but it’s good for the farmers to know that people understand the situation they face and provide moral support. He said people can also support the local towns by visiting and staying overnight, which helps local businesses.
Locals urged to dig deep
Mr Fulton urged locals to dig deep and do their part in helping those who supply our food. Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn is looking to raise as much money as they can because “the need is enormous”.
Mr Fulton said that financial donations are the most effective way to quickly provide the right kind of assistance.
The funds raised will be used to assist farmers by providing gift cards, food parcels and to help pay their bills.
To make an online donation, please visit www.vinnies.org.au/donate or donate at any local Vinnies shop in the Canberra/Goulburn region.
Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn is also calling on farmers or other community members affected by the drought to contact Vinnies for help on (02) 6282 2722.
Mr Fulton said that farmers and graziers are often a bit reluctant to seek help but it’s important that they get it.
He said Vinnies will be able to provide immediate relief through food assistance and other household bill payments.
Government drought assistance
On Sunday (August 5), the Federal Government announced an extra $190 million in drought relief for farmers, including access to two additional cash payments worth up to $12,000 under the Farm Household Allowance scheme.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also recently announced a $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package, which includes drought transport subsidies, and funding for counselling and mental health as well as animal welfare and stock disposal.
Ms Berejiklian said farmers are facing one of the driest winters on record, resulting in failing crops, drastic water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain livestock.
The NSW Rural Assistance Authority started processing applications on Monday (August 6) with more information about the emergency drought relief package available at www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au.
Have you been impacted by the drought? Are farmers receiving enough help? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.