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Farmer slams "viable" in new drought policy

By Lisa Herbert & Catherine Clifford, Saturday May 18, 2013 - 00:33 EST

Farmers in the Pilliga say they're hand-feeding stock after a dry summer, despite the announcement of a new national drought policy.

Beef cattle producer, Gavin Offerman, says the feed he planted over summer has now dried off.

The new national drought policy will focus on preparing farmers for drought, rather than providing compensation for the losses caused by drought.

But Gavin Offerman has told ABC's Rural Report he's been reduced to hand-feeding after just a couple of inches of summer rain across his property.

"We did grow quite a bit of feed on that rain, but it's just a distant memory again now because the feed's dried out, or it's been eaten off or blown off," he said.

"We're back to hand feeding again now, mostly cotton products like cotton holes, cotton seed, a little bit of wheat and some oats if we can source it, and even that's starting to dry up."

Gavin Offerman says the federal government's new national drought policy only assists so-called "viable" farming operations.

But he says, in the current conditions, many farmers would never meet the definition of "viable".

"The freight rebate was quite handy and interest rate subsidies are always welcome but they're a distant thing of the past, you know, and that's basically the two things that would be helpful," he said.

"You have to be viable to gather any of that money they're talking about and you tell me what farmer in Australia is viable at the moment?"


© ABC 2013

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