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Relief in Sydney but farmers face hot, dry conditions inland with little break from drought

David Claughton, Friday November 30, 2018 - 19:56 EDT
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Local Land Services vet Jill Kelly inspects Hugh Taylor's flock as the big dry continues at Coonamble in NSW. - ABC

While Sydney copped a belting from storms this week, conditions inland are still very dry.

Temperatures in rural New South Wales are forecast to climb to 40 degrees Celsius this weekend and this summer is likely to be hotter and drier than normal.

There is little feed or water for livestock in many parts of the state and conditions for crops and fruit trees are precarious.

Many farmers may not be able to take a holiday given the tough summer ahead.

Keeping animals alive

Sue Street from Central Tablelands Local Land Service is encouraging farmers to bring their livestock into the yard to assess their condition.

Livestock saleyards and the abattoirs shut down over the Christmas holidays and farmers need to decide soon if they are going to hang on to their precious animals or sell them.

"Producers need to check they have sufficient feed on hand for livestock and whether the grass in the paddock, grain in the silo or hay in the shed is substantial for that period."

"You really need to make sure that bores and troughs are working well and that you've got a substantial amount of water in your dams, and you need to start planning on where you might be moving stock too and where there's safe water sources."

Ms Street said most of rural NSW was in need of rain despite some areas getting some good falls in thunderstorms.

"It's been patchy and I think everyone would be happy with a lot more rain," Ms Street said.

Orchardists struggling

For apple and cherry grower Guy Gaeta, his summer plans involve just keeping his trees alive.

His dams have not been full since 2016 and he may have to cart water in.

He has a water licence for 26 megalitres of water, but he only got an allocation for two megalitres due to water restrictions.

He is frustrated with the support farmers are getting during the drought.

"The district is in dire straits and politicians are doing nothing about it."

The NSW Minister for Agriculture Niall Blair said the Government was doing everything it could by waiving fees and offering funding for drought preparation.

"We switched off Local Land Service rates and water fees, while the Farm Innovation Fund is available for everyone."

Towns short of water

Some rural communities are facing Christmas with little or no water.

Mayor of the Upper Hunter Shire Wayne Bedgegood said there were emergency plans in place to cart water for Murrurundi and Merriwa, two towns that rely on ground water systems.

"We're in uncharted waters. There's no water coming in from the watersheds above so we just don't know when these underground water systems are going to dry up."

Truck driver Len Kelman, who travels hundreds of thousands of kilometres in drought affected areas to donate hay and water, said he was shocked to see the impact of the drought on local farmers and decided to help out.

Both Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter Shire Councils are providing tens of thousands of litres of water each day.


© ABC 2018

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