It has been a frustrating week for many in agriculture and rural NSW as more events are postponed or cancelled, and many studs grapple with last minute changes to who can attend sales, because everybody has suddenly found themselves locked down.
The delta variant hit the world's radar in December as it swept through India and then around the globe. In the following months it was made abundantly clear this variant was spreading easier and faster across a broader demographic, and followed new rules. Yet, when it broke out in Sydney in late June, our government hadn't changed its strategy - it wasn't ready.
The response to the new outbreak has been as slow and fumbled as the federal government's vaccination rollout. The NSW government has clearly underestimated delta and has failed to plan accordingly. Now, the whole state is taking a hit, along with other parts of the country.
At some point, we will have to live with what is now an endemic virus.
However, we need to give ourselves a fighting chance through vaccination, which still lags, and minimise economic damage as we transition.
In the short-term, better co-ordination and communication from and among government needs to be a priority. The lack of preparedness among NSW government departments and ministerial offices was clear to The Land staff throughout this week as they took calls from frustrated stud producers who needed to know how the changed circumstances affected their businesses.
The government's absence of a plan was abundantly clear as it struggled to provide answers and guidelines as to who could do what.
Stud sale season is in full swing and these events are, typically, the main source of income for the year for these businesses, the majority of which are family farming enterprises. The success of these sales is therefore not just critical for their businesses, but also for local rural economies.
The government's release of guidelines has been slow and disjointed, leaving people in limbo at a critical moment. Along with concerns also reported in recent weeks around ongoing rural labour shortages, it is clear the government has given inadequate consideration to a delta strategy - also highlighted by its desperate grab for vaccinations from interstate and from rural areas - and a total lack of strategy for rural NSW.
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