Drought coordinator will not address the need of all farmers

Pip Job, NSW drought coordinator and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Photo: Jennifer Hoar.
Pip Job, NSW drought coordinator and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Photo: Jennifer Hoar.

The government’s appointment of a New South Wales drought coordinator must go further as it will not address the needs of farmers who are struggling with access to water, feed and no rain, says the NSW Farmers Association.

NSW Farmers welcomed the visit to drought affected areas by the NSW Premier and Minister for Primary Industries this week, but say there needs to be ongoing commitment of further assistance. 

The Association’s Rural Affairs Committee Chair Sonia O’Keefe said many farmers have been or are, actioning the strategies they have in place to manage the ongoing impacts of the hottest and driest April in 20 years, but it’s important politicians listen to farmers’ concerns.

“In Western NSW farmers are facing their fourth year of low or no rainfall,” she said.

“While well-intentioned, the appointment of a drought coordinator will not address the needs of farmers who have limited access to water or feed, and no rain.”

Ms O’Keefe said as the drought conditions worsen, farmers will be making hard decisions to manage their enterprises, families will be managing tightening budgets, and local suppliers will see falling trade.

“It will be critical that the NSW Government also commits to expanding the highly effective Farm Innovation Fund providing low income loans for farm improvements; ensures ongoing availability of Drought Concessional Loans; and increases the capacity of regional programs particularly for financial counselling; as well as those supporting wellbeing and good mental health,” she said.

Niall Blair, Pip Job, Gladys Berejiklian and Troy Grant want to find the best ways to tackle drought conditions. Photo: Craig Thomson.

Niall Blair, Pip Job, Gladys Berejiklian and Troy Grant want to find the best ways to tackle drought conditions. Photo: Craig Thomson.

“We also call on the NSW Government to set funding aside for a Drought Preparedness Centre of Excellence, as well as three additional Doppler radars to cover the Central West and the Western Division of the State to enhance weather forecasting and climate data gathering and analysis.

“We congratulate Pip Job on her appointment and encourage her, the Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services to listen to the issues of farmers who are having to make difficult decisions to get through the worsening seasonal conditions.”