Drought a steep learning curve for chairwoman

HUNTER Local Land Services chairperson Susan Hooke is hopeful an announcement on much-needed State government drought assistance for the Gloucester Shire could be made this week. 

Addressing a group of 30 local farmers at a drought conference in Gloucester last week, Mrs Hooke said the State government was listening to the pleas for assistance.

“It’s been a very steep learning curve for me on drought assistance,” she said.

“In the past Gloucester has tended to be lumped in with other areas, and the assistance that is forthcoming tends to be spread around rather than focused in a specific area.

“The State government is sympathetic to the area and they now realise that what happens in Gloucester is not what happens in Taree, Walcha or Tamworth.”

Gloucester has received just 160mm of rain this year, well down on the average total, and most of that came in a single fall at the beginning of March. 

NSW Farmers branch president Aled Hoggett described the conditions in Gloucester as a ‘green drought’.

He said State government assistance would provide much-need relief for local farmers.

“In many ways it’s a psychological thing that the government recognises we are doing it tough,” he said.

A drought assessment of the Gloucester Shire was carried out on February 6.

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