Drought breaks in NSW
After 10 years of drought, New South Wales has finally been declared drought-free. Carly Nason speaks to Brett Fiefield, Corporate Director of Industry and Investment New South Wales, about the effects of this latest developement:
“Today really marks a milestone for all of NSW with the official figures out from the state government that show not one square inch in NSW is drought declared. The last time this was a situation was June 2001, so we’ve almost had a decade of drought. Basically what this means for famers is that there is a change in conditions that means they may be able to harvest the bumper crop this year worth $2.85 billion, there’s plenty of feed in paddocks for livestock and water storage is looking quite good at the moment as well.”
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Is it somewhat frustrating to farmers that the drought is over but there are still a lot of restrictions on how they can use their water?
I guess for farmers part of farming is drought, part of farming is floods. I think this really characterises the seasonal conditions across NSW. There would be frustration from farmers that this break could have come a lot earlier; they’ve been hanging out for almost a decade. I think each farmer operates in a different environment and it’s a bit difficult to make a general statement about how this would affect them.
Being that there is obviously a lot of debate over water at the moment, will this change anything to do with policy?
Basically this figure is calculated from the 40-nil HPA’s who are reporting to the State Government each month based on the seasonal conditions. This figure allows us to allocate drought relief to different parts of the state when they are in drought, it also gives us a picture of how the season is faring to do with production. They’re the key purposes for having the figure.
Is it a longstanding figure?
I think one of the things that farmers are getting used to is change, whether it’s a change in the environment. Only in December last year was 95% of NSW in drought, so I don’t think we’ll be holding our breath to say that the drought is long gone dead and buried but what we can say is that this month, 0% of the state is in drought and that’s brilliant news.
Carly Nason is a producer for The Wire.