Editorial: long way to recovery despite welcome rain

Many places in the New England North West region have had a good spot of rain at the weekend – while others have no doubt been disappointed at what eventuated from a very promising forecast.

It's rare a day goes by without being able to see a convoy of drought relief in our region or somewhere else across the state. Photo: Scott Curtis

It's rare a day goes by without being able to see a convoy of drought relief in our region or somewhere else across the state. Photo: Scott Curtis

Whatever fell where, it’s obviously just a baby step on the way to the current conditions improving, and we’re a long, long way from a recovery from this drought.

Every day, more people are pushed into choices they never thought they’d have to face: selling off breeding livestock with genetics it has taken them years, if not generations, to refine; leaving their family to manage the hardship on the farm for a week or two at a time while they go away to earn an off-farm income; we’re even hearing of people selling off what they can, shutting the property gates and walking away.

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Critical windows of rainfall for any yield at all, really, in winter crops have been progressively slamming shut across the growing districts, and many summer crops are well behind in rain and soil moisture.

Many on the land might also be bemoaning that we have (yet) a(nother) new PM, who acknowledges drought as Australia’s “most urgent and pressing need” but also admits he’s “from the city” and doesn’t “know one end of a sheep from another”.

And yet, in some towns across our region, a week wouldn’t go by without one seeing a small convoy of trucks and utes with out-of-town business decals or even out-of-state number plates, clearly loaded up with hay and groceries to donate to a relief group.

It’s also good to see more attention turning to how people can simply shift their thinking and their spending to help rural and regional areas – as with our page 5 story today on couples with a “social conscience” opting for a wedding on a dry property.

People are being urged to shop online with businesses in drought-hit areas; to holiday in these areas; and to change their habits, now and for good, to buying Australian and buying local.

Compassion fatigue may well set in yet, but God knows our farmers themselves are fatigued – may the everyday person and the powers that be continue to look for ways to support them until better times.

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