Some farmers say it’s a normal winter around Goulburn but Dave Banham isn’t so sure.
“Personally, it’s as dry a start to winter as I’ve ever seen,” the NSW Farmers Association’s southern regional services manager says.
Based in Goulburn, he covers a large area taking in parts of the Hunter, Sydney basin, south coast and this area. Around here, he says Goulburn is just hanging in there with the drought but go further east towards Braidwood and it’s more challenging.
“We’re not as bad as Braidwood but if we don’t get a spring break we’ll be in a bad position. Things will only get worse and it will take time to recover,” he said.
“People are destocking left, right and centre. Social media has also taken this drought to a new level where people are talking about what’s going on and the assistance available.”
His advice to people is not to self-assess on subsidy applications but to talk to the rural financial counsellor. This in turn built a picture for federal government, helping it decide where to direct assistance.
Regarding the latest state and federal funding, Mr Banham says any assistance is better than none. NSW Farmers had been lobbying for freight subsidies for some time.
“To see it come through is pleasing. Up until recently the government had no appetite for it but then they changed their mind to help out,” he said.
The Association identifies people in need of urgent assistance. Mr Banham says he fields 10 to 12 phone calls a day from farmers, associated industry and those loooking to assist.
Many graziers had held on to stock for as long as possible before deciding to sell.
“The difference from the millenium drought is that stock and wool prices are still good,” he said.
“The options are there to de-stock and not go through the drastic measures like before when graziers were shooting animals.”
Mr Banham said farmers’ resilience was “pretty amazing.”
“Most people are saying it’s tough but ‘we’ll get through it.’ They’re just hoping for more rain falling from the sky,” he said.