Immediate drought support from the government is needed

Listening to farmers: Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, Member for Dubbo Troy Grant, drought coordinator Pip Job, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and central west farmer Phil Sheridan. Photo: Jennifer Hoar.
Listening to farmers: Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, Member for Dubbo Troy Grant, drought coordinator Pip Job, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and central west farmer Phil Sheridan. Photo: Jennifer Hoar.

A farming family struggling with the drought and ready to walk off their farm if no immediate government assistance is given are uncertain with the appointment of a state drought coordinator for New South Wales.

The Haycock family, from Yeoval, shared their story with the Western Magazine earlier this month and spoke about the dire situations they are facing as a result of the drought.

Krystal Hayock said if they don’t get help in the next two months they’ll have no choice but to sell everything they own.

At the announcement of Ms Job’s new position on May 14, she told Fairfax Media her role is to “go out and listen and to better understand what it is the farmers and their communities need.”

“I will collect that information and then present it back to the Government for them to make decisions. My role is more listening than legislating. I am out here to listen,” Ms Job said.

While the Haycock family think very highly of Ms Job, they are concerned if anything will actually be done to immediately help drought affected farms and communities. “Is anybody going to do anything, or are they just here to listen?,” Ms Haycock said.

“Because if we don’t get action within the next two months there’s going to be a lot of farms gone.”

Mr Haycock said the government keep putting off immediate action to help farmers and their only response to assist those was to employ someone.

“Pip is lovely, we think very highly of Pip and her family but we’re just not sure if she’s there to have a role or if she’s there to listen. Because if she’s not there to change policies then what is she there for?,” she said.

“We’d like to invite her for a visit to our farm and hear what she’s going to offer farmers in this area.”

The Department of Primary Industries recently established a Combined Drought Indicator (CDI). The data will be used to inform policy and Government responses to changing seasonal conditions, including drought.

Mr Blair said a third of the state is in drought and up to 97 per cent of the state is approaching drought

“Now we are measuring those factors weekly.

“We measure soil moisture, rainfall, and also vegetation growth to be able to determine what parts of the state are heading towards drought or coming out of drought so this is something that we want to make sure that we keep talking to farmers about, and be ahead of the game because we don't know how long this will go for and we're going to stand by our farmers during this critical time,’ he said.

Ms Haycock said if a third of the state was in drought, that should the Government immediate action was needed.