While Wagga, as a whole, is well-placed to survive the lingering drought, sections of the city’s business community are going to be hard hit, says a community leader.
Alan Johnston, the CEO of Committee 4 Wagga, believes the diversity of the city’s business community would mean it was “not all doom and gloom”, but there could be tough conditions for companies that catered to the rural sector.
“Some sections of Wagga’s business community are going to feel the drought much more than others,” Mr Johnston said.
The latest seasonal update from the Department of Primary Industries shows the drought conditions gripping most of the state are likely to continue into 2019.
The DPI’s Anthony Clark said large parts of western and central NSW were still classified as being in the drought, or intense drought categories, despite some recent storms and rain.
Official climate forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology indicate that the next three months are likely to exceed average daytime and overnight temperatures across the state, meaning drought conditions are likely to remain at current levels or intensity over the coming months, Dr Clark said.
“While some parts of the state received scattered storm activity leading up to the new year, this hasn’t been sustained enough to allow for significant pasture or crop production,” he said.
“That means there has been very minimal opportunity for dryland summer cropping, and there are very low levels of ground cover so farmers have had to continue feeding their livestock.”
Mr Johnston believes it is these concerns about feeding stock that could affect the Livestock Marketing Centre at Bomen.
He said farmers were having to make critical decisions about whether or not to sell off their herds because of the lack of feed and then later face the long task of building numbers up when conditions improve.
Alan Keenan from Tumut was at Bomen on Monday for the year’s first cattle sale.
Mr Keenan said while many producers were prepared for dry conditions during January and February, rain would be needed by March.
He said many farmers were now relying on hand-feeding their sheep and cattle, but as the dry weather conditions continued, feed was going to become more expensive and increasingly scarce.