Australia’s drought crisis and farmers’ stories of anxiety, fear and resilience
We asked readers to share their stories from rising grain prices, to the falling value of stock and the urgent need for help
The price of grain is rising. The price of stock is falling. Everywhere is dust, and the trees are dying. You dont hear frogs any more.
South-east Australia is in the grip of a drought worse than many can remember.
Last month was the second-hottest July on record, and the driest since 2002. It continued a 15-month run of below-average rainfall across New South Wales, central Queensland, the north-west of Victoria and into South Australia.
Here, those on the land cattle farmers, grain growers and others living through the drought share their stories of anxiety, fear and resilience.
Lindy Piper, sheep farmer from Coolah, NSW
I have lived here since 1982 and there have been some very tough times and droughts, but this is by far the worst I have ever seen our farm. What concerns me most is the widespread nature of it from where are we to source grain even if we can afford it? We had no harvest last year and none this year along with most other farmers in south-east Australia.
We, my husband and kids and I, have worked very hard all our working lives to improve the land and our sheep enterprise. It is very hard to see the state of the land now. Many farmers cannot take a break because of the constant feeding of stock and are pretty exhausted.
Maxine Finlay, sheep and cattle farmer from Baradine, NSW
The government has abandoned farmers. If you worked in the city for 12 months and then didnt get paid everyone would be up in arms the government would intervene. Our income from last year has gone on feeding animals to keep them alive. What happens when the feed runs out and we are forced to give up? Well, thats next years income gone too. How would that go down in the city offices if they asked you to come back to work next year without pay? I think the government needs to think more seriously about drought assistance, because loans dont really cut it.
How about the divorces and resultant ongoing ill health, the accidents and suicides that are the results of drought? People say how tough farmers are, but eventually everyone has a breaking point.
Its not only whether this drought is worse, or longer, or whether the drought is over. Its that its another one! Ive been on the land for 40 years and the longer you have been here the more you realise how many times you have lost your income, and watched animals and family suffer. You cant watch animals go hungry and be happy feeding yourself. Or you cut out little treats for your children. Cut back, cut back. You dont buy a business to go broke. You invest to be successful. To work for reward. To prosper.
Mark Robinson, grain grower from Coonamble, NSW