With no rainfall, there’s no food: NSW cattle farmers

Fatal floods washed away bridges in the upper Hunter Valley only four years ago, but that seems a distant memory now for cattleman Peter Lawrence, who hasn’t seen drought conditions like this for decades.
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In April 2014, the water level in the Allyn River running behind Mr Lawrence’s property ­Combwell, near Halton, rose so high it took out several 10m-tall structures along its course, ­cutting off access.
Now he can walk across that same riverbed, its stream reduced to a trickle.
Normal conditions would have a river depth of 5m, he told The Australian, but the current rainfall ­forecast is “nothing for three months”.
“We’re in our third tough year here now,” Mr Lawrence said.
“There’s not enough food for the cattle. It feels like a major drought.”
Nearby areas such as Dungog ­suffered the worst of the 2014 ­inundation, with flash floods in the area being described as a “war zone”.
Three people died, and ­several houses were washed away.
Mr Lawrence said that further west of his property, and two others he manages, “it’s even worse”, but it is clear the drought is ravaging the entire area.
Mr Lawrence is a second-­generation farmer, having lived and worked all his life on the same property that his parents once ­operated as a dairy farm.
He lives on the property with his wife, running a business ­fattening and selling cattle to meat and other livestock ­companies.
Most of his stock goes on to be sold as premium Angus beef.
“We’re down to almost zero income from our cattle,” he said.
“The grass is what we rely on for food. With no rainfall, there’s no food.”
Farmers like Mr Lawrence are having to sell off their cattle at a “much earlier stage” than they normally would.
Money from the sales is then used to purchase food for the ­remaining beasts, and with ­reduced stock, less money is needed to be spent on food.
Mr Lawrence said most farms around the area have had to take similar measures, and ­are running at “minimum ­capacity”.
Subsidy ­assistance with the freight costs of buying food from the southern states, which can cost “as much as the fodder itself”, would be a ­lifeline, he said.
While he acknowledged that there had already been some ­federal government assistance ­initiatives around this, he said they had come in “too late”, and he was yet to see any benefit.
By: Elias Visontay
Source: The Australian
Link: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/with-no-rainfall-theres-no-food-nsw-cattle-farmers/news-story/58e50ab6eef3616476c67217a4f986cb

Mirá También

Así lo expresó Domingo Possetto, secretario de la seccional Rafaela, quien además, afirmó que a los productores «habitualmente los ignoran los gobiernos». Además, reconoció la labor de los empresarios de las firmas locales y aseguró que están «esperanzados» con la negociación entre SanCor y Adecoagro.

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