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Farmers supporting each other through the drought

As the country rallies around its farmers, support for Australia’s primary producers is also coming from another likely source: each other. 

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Henty Machinery Field Days Co-Operative CEO Belinda Anderson says community events like the field days – held in September and attended by around 60.000 people annually – provide an opportunity for farmers to interact with and support each other, an important resource in times of devastating drought. 

“If you're from east of here you’re not doing it quite as tough as the guys west of here,” she says. “So you can easily lend a hand and a bit of an ear.”

" If you're from east of here you’re not doing it quite as tough as the guys west of here.” –HMFD CEO Belinda Anderson

 

Despite the dry conditions, visitor numbers at Henty were on par with previous years in 2018. Farmer and Research & Development Agronomist at NSW Department of Primary Industries, Rohan Brill says the drought was continuing to affect “pretty well all four quarters” of NSW.

“The south east is still in the game certainly and you can get up in some areas around Wallendbeen and that area good actually do quite well,” he says. “Once we get to south west New South Wales, I suppose a fair bit of crop has been planted and it's struggling a fair bit.

“Once we get to the northwest and the northeast, in some respects that area hasn't invested a whole lot into this crop so they’re just riding it out and waiting for it to rain and will plant a crop once the moisture triggers there to actually plant a crop again.”

Brills’ own family farm is faring OK.

“We had about 150ml of rain in December and so as much as the calendar doesn’t look so good,” he says. “If we take it back to December including the harvest rain we had last year, which was a bit of a pain at the time, that 150ml is actually giving us a bit of bulk in crops now.“ 

Upside

While some of the industries supporting businesses such as machinery and fertiliser companies are also feeling the effects of drought, there are others experiencing upside as farmers look for ways to manage crops and livestock.

“Feedlot sales have been high because of the drought,” Peter Boyd, Farmer and Owner of Boyd Metal Works says.

“They can see the benefit to get a store lamb to a finish lamb so even at the higher grain prices it’s still a no brainer - it's still very economical to do that.”

Despite the current pressures on the local farming community, positivity remains.

“Farmers in the end are optimists because I don't think you could actually continue farming for a long period of time without having some type of optimism,” says Belinda Anderson, CEO, Henty Machinery Field Days Co-Operative.

“We do know that seasons change and climate conditions vary from year to year. 2016 was one of the wettest on records and we had tractors pulling cars out and this year we certainly don't have that problem but you know farmers are optimists and they know it will change.” 

Jason Wadley is Regional Executive, NSW South West at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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