Drought – Bringing Solutions to the Table

I left Jamberoo last Saturday which could do with a little rain, travelled up Jamberoo Mountain to the Southern Tablelands which could do with a lot of rain, past Goulburn which is dry dry dry to Crookwell home of Young Farming Champions Adele Offley and Jasmine Nixon. Jasmine and Adele’s family farms like all of those in the region are desperate for rain.

I was in town to speak at the 2014 Zone 3 The Land Showgirl Finals and despite the conditions I couldn’t get over how resilient the farmers are. I sat opposite Jasmine’s father at the dinner. He wasn’t complaining or whinging and readily acknowledged that drought in Australia was now an average year.

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Jasmine with some of her beloved Angus heifers that despite the drought were in superb condition

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Thanks to their diet being supplemented with grains by hand feeding

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Jasmine and her horse Holly

Jasmine who was the 2012 RAS The Land Showgirl is rapidly rising through the ranks at Teys in Wagga but her father has high hopes she will return to the farm and I am confident that is exactly where Jasmine sees her future.

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Crookwell is a region where the farmers are actively  involved in Landcare and are very proud of the way they are changing the landscape through restoration and rehabilitation.

From Jasmine’s farm at Rosyln I travelled the 10 kms to Laggan where Adele’s family have been farming for five generations ( Meet Adele’s grandmother here )

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Laggan Pub

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Adele and her family grow crops

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and run 5000 merinos.

Together with Adele, her dad Bruce and Jesh (Adele’s partner) we went out to hand feed the sheep.

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Adele and her dad off to hand feed the sheep

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Despite the dry conditions thanks to the dedication to animal care, like the stock at the Nixons, the sheep on the Offley looked equally well fed and happy

Hand Feeding the Sheep

These days Crookwell attracts Pitt St farmers and the Offley’s have over 20 neighbours

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Neighbours who often don’t realise that when you have no feed for your sheep you certainly cant spare any for the increasing kangaroo population that is often encouraged by lifestyle farmers

The Offley’s at great expense have added two metre star picket posts and an two extra rows of wire to their boundary fences to help keep the kangaroos out.

It was heartbreaking to see this 150 acres planted with buckwheat looking so barren

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With the seed  only spouting in a couple of moist areas with the remaining plants look very parched.

Buckwheat paddock

This paddock of buckwheat

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should look like this

Again like Jasmine, Adele dreams of the day when she can return to the farm she loves so dearly

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With drought being an average year just how do we encourage and support young people to come back to the farm and rural communities?

Here is an example of what a group of QLD farmers who have found themselves in a position of financial difficulty due largely to extreme weather events are doing.

They are proposing a reintroduction the ARDB (Australian Reconstruction & Development Board) This would involve re-establishing an agriculture specific board to design a framework to assist on a micro scale; farming families to survive droughts, floods and other extreme events and avoid the situation of their banks either limiting their cash flow to survive these situations or selling them up. On a greater scale it is hoped that by securing the future of agricultural enterprises this will have positive follow effects to the rural townships through Australia and ensure agriculture remains a viable pursuit for many generations to come. Ultimately this board would offer those in financial difficulty essential carry on finance at a rate that is far lower than that available through the banks. Ultimately this will have flow on effects in the future such as facilitating farm succession.

Barnaby Joyce has now agreed to formally take the proposal to the Coalition. The project has also garnered support from Bob Katter.  The Economic Committee of the senate will review the proposal in the coming weeks. The group is encouraging people to submit a submission to the senate in support. The deadline is 10th February 2014

Submissions don’t have to be of personal experiences they can simply be in support of such a proposal. This link  that will allow you to what others are saying and provide an opportunity for you to make a submission.

I am not saying this is the solution but it is imperative that farmers bring solutions to the table. Farmer like James and Manny Walker.  Please take the time to see what they are doing here

In the meantime in the words of Milk Maid Marian farmers are putting one foot in front of the other

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

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