'Help us, minister'

An open letter to NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson.

Dear Ms Hodgkinson,

Greetings from the New England-North West, the beating heart of the nation’s food bowl.

Over the past 180 years, battle-weary soldiers, migrants and proud farming families have ploughed sinew and sweat into the land to help feed Australia and the world.

We’ve endured the worst nature could dish out - floods, plagues and suffocating droughts.

But rarely have we faced a graver threat to our way of life than the natural disaster currently on our doorstep.

This wretched drought has stripped water from dams, pasture from paddocks and hope from even the most optimistic.

Its tentacles have reached every corner of our communities, shaking business confidence, decimating rural land prices and creating a mental health crisis.

We know you can’t make it rain - but you can help ease the pain.

Only you have the power to declare our region in drought, a fact as clear as the cracks in the ground and the scorched-brown paddocks.

This declaration should have come weeks - if not months - ago and will unlock desperately needed funds for our farmers.

When you visit our region, you will come face-to-face with communities uncertain in their future but united in their purpose.

You will hear the stories and feel the anguish of people like Daniel Knapman, a fourth-generation Kelvin farmer who grows wheat, sorghum and cotton and raises beef.

Can you look into the eyes of his children and say their family does not deserve drought support?

Farming is our future; families like the Knapmans are our future.

And no one - least of all a government put in power to serve us - should be able to take that away.

Sincerely,

The communities of the New England-North West

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