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Australia: Some NSW farmers cut off from drought assistance

Farmers in New South Wales say they may miss out on drought assistance and subsidies because eligibility criteria does not reflect drought areas. 

The Federal Government uses the Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall deficiency analyser to determine what areas receive assistance. 

The analyser shows farmers on the NSW north coast have been in a one-in-50-year drought but it excludes farmers at Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett in NSW’s north-west. 

Walgett farmer Bill Murray said many farmers who have been in drought for several years would not qualify for assistance under this model. 

“The map for the Water Emergency Rebate, covers up the north coast and comes up through Walcha, Armidale and back over to Moree,” Mr Murray said.

“I fail to understand how that could be a one-in-fifty-year area, they had wheat crops in Moree and Narrabri and the rest. 

“In the shire of Walgett you could have carried it out in a few trucks.” 

NSW Farmers Association worried farmers that need help will miss out 

NSW Farmers Association says the government should take more information into account to help drought stricken farmers. 

NSW Farmers’ rural affairs committee chair Sonia O’Keefe said the Bureau of Meteorology coverage of NSW was not comprehensive.

“There are not enough weather stations to cover all of NSW,” Ms O’Keefe said. 

“If that is going to be the criteria than a lot of farmers are going to be excluded that desperately need the help. 

“I don’t know why they cannot use on-farm records. 

“It is very obvious to everyone that many of these farmers in Bourke and Brewarrina have not had anywhere enough rainfall.” 

Ms O’Keefe said storms could deliver a lot of rain to a small geographic area but adjacent farms could miss out.

She said large rainfall events over a short period of time could deliver a whole year’s rain all at once, but it did nothing to alleviate drought.

“It just all runs off and it doesn’t get you out of a drought or provide you with the feed that you need,” she said.

– Weatherzone/ABC


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