It is being called one of the driest winters on record, and now with the entire state classified drought affected, producers are looking skyward for rain.
Poor rainfall and pasture-crop growth conditions over the last year has led the state government to offer emergency drought relief measures to farmers, including transport subsidies, waivers on farming costs, animal welfare measures and mental health support.
I’ve seen it a lot worse than this.Candelo farmer of almost 50 years Barry Moffitt
Candelo sheep and beef farmer Barry Moffitt said while feeding stock had become more expensive than he’s seen in his almost 50 years working the land, there are positive signs coming from south of the border.
“She’s a little dry now, but I hear it has come good in parts of Victoria,” the 64-year-old said.
“I’ve seen it a lot worse than this. The grass here is wanting to grow, but we need the moisture.”
Mr Moffitt also leases out a dairy farm, and said getting hay is difficult as farmers look to “buy stock up”.
Candelo Stockfeeds’ Joe Ramsey said while the Bega Valley is faring better than other regions, the price of feed is “getting out of control” and hay is lacking in supply, with some companies running eight weeks behind on orders.
“There was a bad harvest last year, so there wasn’t much hay to buy then. It’s going to get worse, because it hasn’t rained so there won’t be a harvest this year,” he said.
Mr Ramsey said the two lump sum cash payments offered by the federal government will not help farmers needing to feed livestock as, “there’s nothing to buy, so money won’t help”.
With hay primarily coming from South Australia, suppliers may have to soon start looking as far as Western Australia, Mr Ramsey said.
“We had a 10 year drought here before, but you could still buy feed from places where they had bumper crops,” he said.
“I do think farmers could prepare better, but nobody is saying they’re in dire straits.
“There is a lot of silage around and a lot of farmers are smarter than your average bear.”
NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said “producers are now faced with some very difficult decisions on whether to graze sown crops or rely on potential rainfall in the next two months”.
“This is tough, there isn’t a person in the state that isn’t hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities,” he said.