Firsthand experience of drought and an understanding of the toll it can take on farming businesses, bank balances and emotional well-being will be discussed in a series of forum held in Nevertire next month.
The 'Dealing with the Dry: Farm management options during and after drought' forum was initiated by Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grower Relations Manager Susan McDonnell to deliver practical advice ranging from how to talk about debt with your bank manager, to accessing government services and identifying and supporting mental health issues.
A grain grower herself, Mrs McDonnell said the GRDC Dealing with the Dry forums would be run in small communities across NSW and were focused on delivering genuinely helpful information directly to those in need.
"Unfortunately, like many people involved in rural industries, I know only too well the impact of drought. It can be extremely demoralising and leave you wondering how you will get through both from a financial and psychological perspective," she said.
"These forums are about bringing communities together and offering support and advice on some really challenging topics, like how we talk to our bank manager about debt and what we can do to put ourselves in the best possible position for that conversation.
"As growers we all know our long-term business goals have been put on hold due to our income changes with the drought, so this is about understanding the different ways we can effectively manage our debt and limited cash flow while planning for the future.
"These forums aren't about having all the answers. Instead, they are about starting interactive discussions and offering opportunities to question experts and build on our knowledge."
Mrs McDonnell said rural financial counsellors would also present at the forums on how and what government services growers could access during dry times.
"As growers we don't always have the time to fully investigate options when it comes to government services so this is a chance to hear what is available and how you can access it," she said.
Specialists consultants will also offer guidance on managing dry conditions and evaluating farm planning for when the season breaks."We have invited experienced local farm advisers at each event to be part of this session so we are hearing realistic options for local conditions," Mrs McDonnell said.
"Like many people involved with the GRDC, the drought is my daily reality too and while I know there is a limit to what we can do on-farm while it is dry, there are steps we can take to put ourselves in the best possible position to get through these tough times.
"The GRDC Dealing with Dry forums are open to growers, farm advisers and other community members and industry stakeholders and are free of charge.
The first round of forums will be held on:
- July 15, Spring Ridge - Spring Ridge Hall, 1.00PM - 4.00PM
- July 16, Nevertire - Nevertire Hall, 11.00AM - 2.00PM
- July 17, Coonamble - Coonamble Bowling Club, 10.00AM - 1.00PM
- July 22, Nindigully (Queensland) - Nindigully Sports Club, 1.30PM - 4.30PM
- July 23, Garah - Garah Hall, 10.00AM - 1.00PM
- July 24, Rowena - Rowena Hall, 11.00AM - 2.00PM
For more information or to RSVP contact firstname.lastname@example.org.