THE time for talk regarding the record drought in rural NSW and Queensland is passed, the disaster is upon us and we are hopelessly under prepared.
Because our business has some experience with feeding systems and past droughts, we regularly field casual inquiries for feeding suggestions and always leave people with the same advice.
Feed for profit - it is sad that this same advice is not part of our federal and state drought initiatives or policies.
We are breaking new climatic records in our region.
We have far surpassed the Millennium and Federation droughts. Graziers are treading new ground.
Fodder prices are not only at record highs, but have very limited availability.
Dams are dry and underground water is scarce at best.
Feeding for profit means many things. It may mean sell now; it may mean feed to a contract or grid minimum; or it may mean to feed through to a pregnancy test or to an early weaning.
Feeding for profit simply means to analyse all issues of feed, water and markets and select your exit strategy rather than letting your exit strategy select you.
Feeding for profit requires three components; a strategy, a feeding system and access to a nutritionist.
Many of our graziers are locked into feeding increasingly expensive feeds with decreasing levels of nutrition to cows that will soon have a greater energy requirement.
Spring brings hot weather and baby calves. I am sad for the inevitable outcome.
Unfortunately I can find little government support, either advisory or financial in setting up feed for profit systems, or anything similar.
A quick scan through the Department of Primary Industries Animal Welfare plan mentions the aim of the best available science and an impressive timeline with little actual information.
The 2018 Managing for Drought document has 86 pages of graphs, spread sheets and helpful information, but nothing about the practical building of a sacrifice (supplementary feeding) paddock or the utilisation of a nutritionist.
I am not being critical of graziers or DPI, we are in new climatic territory, but the "normal" will not work.
Furthermore, while the various RAS initiatives are greatly appreciated, I am seeing turnaround times in excess of up to eight weeks.
This is far too long. Likewise, the Drought Assistance Fund has a six to eight week turnaround for loans, but the budgeted work can't be commenced before approval.
A graziers budgeted project may be for water or feeding systems.
I am betting government spending on this initiative is well below expected.
I have no solutions for those graziers without the capacity to implement feed for profit initiatives except to sell livestock quickly.
This has been a very long drought and there is little optimism for future rain.
I urge our Government authorities to analyse and update their systems to get timely advice, feedback and finance approvals to their clients.
We are breaking new ground, the disaster is with us, we need to act now.
- Bob Jamieson is the director of Bob Jamieson Agencies, Inverell, and a member of Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association (ALPA).