AS NSW farmers battle through a record-breaking drought, the small towns that service the region’s agriculturalists are also quietly suffering.
David Thompson, who services and sells farm machinery in Parkes, says his business has dried up by around 90 per cent this year as farmers stop spending.
“It has had a dramatic effect on our business,” Mr Thompson told AAP.
“We usually prepare up to 50 or 60 headers a year, we’ve done five.”
Parkes Chamber of Commerce president Geoff Rice says the entire town is feeling the pinch of the drought.
“It’s basically an unseen struggle in the rural towns,” Mr Rice said.
“It’s an economic cost that we wear as businesses in the town, that's for sure.”
The 47-year-old said not only were sales slowing, but businesses were also having to wait longer for their money as farmers struggle to find money to feed their livestock.
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“Talking to a lot of businesses in town, they are wearing a lot of debt,” Mr Rice said.
“There’s not much we can do, you just sit there and know eventually they will pay.”
Farmers across NSW are paying hefty sums for fodder to be trucked in from as far as South Australia and Victoria, so they can feed their animals.
Meanwhile, for the first time in a generation, crop farmers are facing the prospect of harvesting nothing at all.
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Mr Thompson said he and his staff knew firsthand how hard some farmers were struggling through the drought.
“Farmers are very proud people and they won't generally open up to a lot of people, but they do trust mechanics,” he said.
“We're big on mental health here and we've had discussions saying ‘if a farmer needs to talk to you because he's got no one else to talk to, I don't care how long you're out there, just talk to him’.”
More than 80 per cent of the state is suffering rainfall deficiencies, the Bureau of Meteorology says.
Australian Associated Press