Blair and Johnsen on hand in the Hunter
Watching the sky is a full-time occupation for some farmers in the Hunter who have been battling one of their driest seasons.
While they wait for the rains to arrive, NSW Nationals MPs have been on hand to reassure farmers that the State Government is here to help with its $300 million Drought Strategy.
Our Deputy Leader and Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair MLC joined NSW Nationals Member for the Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen to tour drought-affected farms in the region.
Niall said the conditions which have taken hold in the Hunter are the driest six months since the crippling drought in the early 1980s.
“Dwindling water supplies and a real shortage of feed for livestock are presenting our farmers with critical decision points and today I have witnessed first-hand the challenges they are facing,” he said.
“The impacts of drought go well beyond what the eye can see - it goes right to the heart of our regional communities.”
As part of his tour, Niall announced the appointment of a rural support worker to be based in Scone who will be the DPI’s ear on the ground, assisting farmers by providing a single access point for support measures.
Michael Johnsen welcomed the news of Ms Linda Russell’s appointment, who will be able to assist producers with a range of measures from well-being, skills and finance, as well as in-drought management advice.
“Linda is based in Scone and understands just how hard locals there have been hit by these severe conditions. The DPI has a team of rural resilience officers across the State who will be working with Linda immediately to ensure her impact is felt by our community,” he said.
Michael also took the opportunity to warn against the politicisation of natural events by making unhelpful comparisons to QLD funding schemes, which impose far higher thresholds before support van be accessed than NSW schemes.
“In NSW we have a system that does not rely on ‘drought declaration’ and is ongoing, through good times and bad,” he said.
“Transport subsidies are available for stock and fodder and I urge farmers to go directly to the drought hub website”.
For more information please visit https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/climate-and-emergencies/droughthub