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Tough decisions ahead for Far South Coast farmers

With very little rainfall since early April, recent windy conditions and a three month outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a drier and warmer spring and early summer, Far South Coast farmers are facing some tough decisions. As with this time last year, decisions around feeding and or selling are at the front of many farmers’ minds.

Feeding

“Again, farmers are looking at alternative feed products to supplement what they have on farm and weighing this up against selling livestock, including breeding stock,” said Andrew Taylor from Local Land Services.

Livestock health and welfare has become a key focus for farmers and Local Land Services. “Maintaining condition is becoming more challenging, especially for lactating animals,” said Mark Doyle, District Veterinarian with Local Land Services.

“As an example, assuming no paddock feed, a dry beef cow requires approximately 4kg of DDG pellets and 1kg of hay per day to maintain good condition.

“A lactating cow (with calf) requires about double that. At today’s bulk prices, this equates to just over $4 a day for a cow and calf unit”.

Selling

According to Stewart Smith, stock agent with Chester and Smith in Bega, the cattle market is still strong, especially considering the conditions, so selling animals, or feeding well to sell, is an option. “Supply is, however, starting to increase, so this may put downward pressure on prices,” said Stewart.

Regardless, Stewart’s mantra is “Farm to the conditions, not the markets”.

Support

South East Local Land Services reminds farmers that there is support during these tough times.

  1. The Rural Assistance Authority has multiple support options available. Most importantly, September 30 is the deadline for submitting applications to the Drought Transport Subsidy for the 2018/19 financial year. The subsidy is also available for the 2019/20 financial year.
  2. The NSW DPI Drought Feed Calculator App and the Managing and Preparing for Drought guide are invaluable drought management tools
  3. The DPI Rural Resilience Program (www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/about-us/rural-support/RRP) and the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (www.crrmh.com.au/programs-and-projects/ramhp/) will assist with managing stress and looking after yourself.

Workshops

South East Local Land Services will be holding a workshop titled ‘Flexible Farming’ in Bega on October 2 and Moruya on October 3 to help farmers deal with dry times and capitalise on the good times (when they come!) by building flexibility into their systems.

The NSW DPI Drought hub is the central location for drought related information and support. Simply google “NSW DPI Drought Hub”.

Alternatively, contact South East Local Land Services in Bega on 6491 7800 for more information and advice on any of the above.

ENDS

Media contact: Dave Michael, South East Local Land Services, 0418 513 880