‘Green drought’ taking a toll

STATE government drought assistance will be of more direct benefit to Gloucester farmers than a $320 million drought package announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week, NSW Farmers branch president Aled Hoggett said.

Speaking after a special drought meeting of the local NSW Farmers branch last Thursday, Mr Hoggett said the ‘green drought’ being experienced by Gloucester farmers had taken a significant toll.

He said while the federal government’s drought package was welcome, a drought declaration for Gloucester would be of greater benefit to farmers.

“State assistance is the more important because it includes transport subsidies,” he said.

“A State drought declaration would ease the minds of a lot of local farmers. 

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

Decent rains across the weekend will have provided welcome relief for local primary producers, but Mr Hoggett said the effects of a dry summer had been compounded by a dry spring and it had left farmers with little room to manoeuvre heading into the cooler months.

“Dams and rivers are still relatively dry and now is the period when growth starts to tank off,” he said.

“The four or five months leading to November were dry and the rains that month were a false hope. We really need rain to lift people’s spirits as much as anything.”

Mr Hoggett said a talk by Hunter LLS (Local Land Services) general manager Brett Miners during last Thursday’s meeting had also provided hope that assistance would be forthcoming.

“Since the transition to LLS there has been something of a black hole,” Mr Hoggett said.

“Mr Miners recognised that and it seems the LLS is starting to make progress.”

Mr Hoggett urged all local farmers to write to Upper Hunter MP George Souris urging him to lobby for drought assistance for the Gloucester Shire.

“It’s always better if it comes straight from the source,” he said.

NSW Farmers branch president Aled Hoggett.

NSW Farmers branch president Aled Hoggett.