In the face of climate change and dry weather ahead, the NSW Government needs to strengthen its resolve to deliver dairy farmers an aggressive long-term strategy to underpin the sustainability of the industry and farm businesses. We need to urgently build climate resilience amongst the farming sector.
This was the view today of Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan reacting to news this week that the State Government had appointed a drought coordinator to steer a path through dry conditions across most of NSW.
“While we all welcome the initiative & applaud the appointment of Pip Job to the position as announced by Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair, Dairy Connect believes the Government needs to have a long, hard look into the future in terms of climate, particularly in the dairy industry” he said.
“Dairy Connect also acknowledges and welcomes the introduction of the Drought Transport Fund which offers low interest loans to subsidise the cost of freighting fodder and which forms part of the existing $300 million NSW Drought Strategy.
“Sceptics are saying, however, that these initiatives are a patchwork of measures and are short term, many of which are being introduced much later than they have been needed.”
More than one third of NSW is in drought, or is on the edge of drought, with snow and frosts also biting early as producers scan the horizon for signs of an overdue autumn break.
Shaughn Morgan said NSW dairy farmers needed to have access to a comprehensive strategy that was forward-looking and, in practical terms, much more aggressive and proactive.
“Dairy Connect research has compared Government responses in NSW with those currently enacted in Queensland,” he said.
“Queensland dairy families have a Drought Relief Assistance Scheme which provides subsidies for fodder, water and livestock transport.
“The scheme includes an emergency water infrastructure rebate which underpins emergency water installations for livestock preservation and welfare.
“Against this particular item, NSW offers a 50 per cent subsidy to transport stock off farms of up to $20,000 per year.”
Dairy Connect also continues to encourage dairy farmers to speak with their neighbours, colleagues and friends if they feel the need to speak about how the drought is impacting upon them.
“It is vital that dairy farmers seek support & help if circumstances start to become unduly harsh and mental health issues begin to surface”, Shaughn said
In Dubbo on Monday, the Premier and Primary Industries Minister announced the appointment of respected agriculture leader and former National Rural Woman of the Year, Pip Job, to the coordinator role.
Gladys Berejiklian and Niall Blair acknowledged at the Dubbo launch that farmers were struggling.
The Premier said Ms Job’s appointment as drought coordinator would see her provide information to affected communities, identify emerging risks and coordinate drought response. Dairy Connect hopes this coordination will extend to mental health support and coordination.