Opinion: The impact of the state government's drought assistance package

SUNSHINE, dust, feeding.

DRY AND DUSTY: It remains to be seen if the state government's drought assistance package is too little, too late. Photo: Billy Jupp

DRY AND DUSTY: It remains to be seen if the state government's drought assistance package is too little, too late. Photo: Billy Jupp

Sunshine, dust, feeding.

Gets repetitive doesn’t it?

Sadly, those three words are the day-to-day reality for every farmer within our region, as crippling drought continues to strangle our community.

However, in the past week there has been some light at the end of the tunnel for many of our farming families.

The generous spirit of our community was on full display over the weekend, as locals pitched-in what they could at two separate fundraisers, which so far have collectively raised more than $52,000.

As well as this monumental effort, the state government has come to the table to help farmers, with $500 million in emergency drought relief.

Throughout the region a collective sigh was heard as news filtered through that backdated freight subsidies were included in the package.

The news was welcomed by Wallawong Premium Beef’s Kate James who said the backdated subsidies would help her family feed their stud cattle for “a little bit longer”.

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Those thoughts were echoed by fellow stud cattle producer Juliana McArthur.

Her properties at Manilla, Emerald Hill and Goolhi have all felt the sting of drought conditions and the news of help was well received.

However, Mrs McArthur like many drought-stricken farmers raised a valid point when discussing the freight assistance on offer.

“It’s limited to $20,00 per farming family and we have spent significantly more than that on fodder this year alone,” Mrs McArthur said.

“What help will there be in a year’s time when the affects of this drought will be still felt?”

It’s a valid question.

Every farmer will tell you that a drought is not fixed overnight.

So what help will be on offer this time next year if this savage drought has not relented?

That remains to be seen.

In the meantime, farmers will continue to do what they always do.

Dig deep, and keep going until it rains.

It’s obvious to anyone blessed to witness the determination shown by our farmers every day that this is exactly what they will do. Here’s hoping that more assistance won’t be needed and the current assistance announced by the government is not too little, too late.

This story Drought assistance welcome but what next? | The Big Dry first appeared on Namoi Valley Independent.

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