IF ever farmers were primed for additional drought support, it was during a speech by the Primary Industries Minister at the state’s centerpiece ag lobby event.
But while minister Niall Blair had no new tangible support to offer NSW Farmers delegates at Luna Park on Tuesday, he admitted government will have to do more to help farmers suffering though the record dry and harsh frosts.
“We know that if we don’t get that spring break, if people have taken a punt and got something out of the ground… we need to be prepared for what will happen to that winter crop harvest,” Mr Blair said.
“What happens if it fails?
“These are the conversations we are having right now within government.”
“We are going to respond, and we need to make sure what we come up with is appropriate for now. But we’ll probably need to do more depending on what happens when we come into spring.”
This is something as a government we’ve put a lot of money into, mainly preparedness – but we’re past thatPrimary Industries Minister Niall Blair
Hopeful eyes will now turn to the Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her address to conference at 11am on Wednesday.
She will be followed by NSW Labor leader Luke Foley.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen”
Mr Blair spoke briefly on the future of agriculture in the state but brought the conversation quickly around to drought.
Delegates were not shy in sharing their insights.
“It’s interesting to hear about what could be happening out to 2050, but like most people in the room I’m only concerned about November 2019,” said Stuart Gall, Moree.
“Because there’s no crop on the ground now, and there won’t be a cheque in the mail until then.
“I don’t know about others in the room but it’s the biggest (drought) I’ve ever seen – not having crops in the ground at this time of the year.”
Mr Blair would not confirm if any new announcements would be forthcoming, and said he was reluctant to put a timeline on support.
“The challenge we’ve got is that every farm business is different. Our response needs to be fair, equitable, and can be adapted to all of those businesses,” he said.
He acknowledged the long-term forecast was bleak and more support would be needed.
“When you look across NSW right now you could be forgiven for thinking we’re in the middle of February, not the middle of July,” he said.
“This is something as a government we’ve put a lot of money into, mainly preparedness – but we’re past that.
“We know that some of the best laid plans have come to an end. The people have been preparing themselves for an outcome they couldn’t imagine.”
Meanwhile, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have been steadfast in their demands for government to do more for farmers by way of subsidies.
This week Shooters’ Orange MP Philip Donato donated his 2.5 per cent pay rise – $2466 - to drought charity Aussie Helpers, and called for other regional politicians to follow suit.
The Land has asked the SFF whether Mr Donato’s Upper House colleagues Robert Borsak and Robert Brown will also donate their 2.5 per cent pay rise.