Our Say: A drop in the ocean in battle against the dry

Our Say: A drop in the ocean in battle against the dry


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Ray White Rural's Daniel Armitage (left) and Brian McAneney (right), and farmer Cal Hawkins smile in the rain on Sunday. Photo: FAYE WHEELER

Ray White Rural's Daniel Armitage (left) and Brian McAneney (right), and farmer Cal Hawkins smile in the rain on Sunday. Photo: FAYE WHEELER

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The rural sector has welcomed Sunday's wet weather, but the coming days and weeks will be crucial.

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The rain at the weekend was heartily welcomed by anyone in those dry regions lucky enough to get even the slightest of downpours.

It had been forecast, but after months of extremely dry conditions few would have believed it would actually happen.

The dream came true and, in Dubbo, residents were revelling in the moist – even a bit chilly – conditions. At last. Some rain to save the remnants of green city areas turning to dusty, straw-covered desert terrain.

By Sunday afternoon, the city had experienced around 15mm of rain – three times the entire September rainfall figure.

Even towns like Bourke, in the parched Far West, and Trangie recorded falls over 20mm.

But, the rain was literally a drop in the ocean when you consider how much is needed to prop up and advance farmers struggling to cope with the impacts of about six months of weather conditions generally described, perhaps euphemistically, as the “dry”.

Lack of rain hit the winter crops with some landowners left unable to sow paddocks. For some months livestock producers have been taking the advice of stock agents and selling off sheep and cattle for which they have no water, no pasture feed and which they cannot afford to hand-feed.

As NSW Farmers’ Association regional services manager for west Caron Chester said, the rain would be well-received by everyone.

But, she pointed out Walgett, Brewarrina and Bourke had gone straight back into drought this year after the “one great year of rain in 2016”. For the previous five years the farms and towns in those areas were battling a drought.

Ms Chester said the weekend rain would hopefully bring a green “pick” for livestock out west and top up water tanks.

This week and well into the future all eyes will be on the skies, hoping for big rains.

But, that lies in the hands of Nature and beyond our control.

What can be controlled is the response of governments when our landowners face challenges.

When the drought hit last time, both the NSW and Federal governments were slow to react, in the judgment of farmers and their lobby groups. And when they did take action it was seen as “too little, too late”.

If the weather doesn’t favour the farmers soon, they should be given help early on … not when communities are on their knees.

The story Our Say: A drop in the ocean in battle against the dry first appeared on Daily Liberal.

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