The CWA of Victoria has fully dispersed all drought relief monies at this time. Unfortunately we are unable to accept any further applications as this stage.
We thank all those who have generously donated to the Drought Relief Fund and we have been overwhelmed with the thanks we have received from those affected by the drought conditions in Victoria.
Lyn Harris OAM
The CWA of Victoria Inc.
East Gippsland Drought Update – a local perspective
Whilst most of the recent media focus on the drought has been on Queensland and NSW, parts of Victoria are also suffering heavily due to a severe lack of rain. One of these areas is in Gippsland – not the green rolling hills of South Gippsland, but only one hour east is a coastal area that is going into its third year of poor rainfall.
The localities of Stradbroke, Giffard and Darriman lie between Sale and Yarram. This farming area was hit with the “Millennium Drought” and the pattern is occurring again. In 2017, the area only received two thirds of its annual rainfall (historically 650mm), with one third of that occurring in December – not an ideal time to receive rain with the heat of summer imminent to dry off any new grass that had grown. So far in 2018, the area has received only 170mm, with no good rain forecast for the foreseeable future. Dams are dry, the paddocks are green but the grass has no nutritional value.
Farmers have been handfeeding their stock for the last 12 months, however supplies are now running low as usually when one area of the country is in drought, other areas have good seasons so are able to supply grain and fodder to other regions. With so much of Qld and NSW also suffering dry conditions, the availability of excess feed is not there. It is also becoming more expensive with every load, whether that be grain to feed sheep or hay for cows. And the transport costs are rising as the feed is coming from further and further away.
Most farmers have destocked to try to make the available feed go further. Only core breeding stock remain on most farms, with decisions on what to join and what to sell occurring regularly. Whilst people will say that we have had a wonderful year with commodity prices, and we do not dispute that, we are needing every cent to pay to keep our remaining stock alive. Whilst this is affordable this year, we now must budget for the next two years on our remaining finances as our stock numbers are so reduced that we will not receive anywhere near the income that we have received this year .So when the rain does come, it will take time to build up numbers again to where they were, with no guarantee that commodity prices will be at the levels we are seeing now. And fuel, mortgages, electricity, internet, food and water bills will need to be paid regardless of how many sheep or cattle we have.
To try to relieve the emotional strain for one night, a CWA branch decided to host a dinner with a speaker, to get the local farmers together so that they don’t feel so isolated during what can be a very difficult time – we are all in this together. That’s where Vince Sorrenti has come into the story. By agreeing to visit our small area and to give us hopefully a few good laughs – it is supposed to be the best medicine. A night with other farmers to compare notes, suggest ideas and to just keep an eye on anyone who may be more vulnerable. A few local businesses donated funds to assist with the costs of the night.
Written by a CWA of Victoria member living in East Gippsland