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Cobar's fortunes turning as rain falls, but many properties still dry

By Jessie Davies, Thursday August 13, 2020 - 12:33 EST
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Cobar grazier David Snelson says recent rain has brought his place back to life. - ABC

Graziers in the Cobar district, in western New South Wales, say recent rain has renewed their optimism after three extremely dry years.



This week rain pushed merino breeder David Snelson's annual tally to 330 millimetres.

"That's our average annual rainfall," Mr Snelson said.

"So I'm very happy about that."

Before drought conditions set in in 2017, Mr Snelson ran 3,500 sheep, but had to reduce his flock to 2,000 head to cope with dwindling ground cover.

Regular falls of rain have allowed him to rebuild his flock in recent months.

"Things have greened back up and I'm looking forward to my upcoming shearing now things have turned around," he said.



Out of survival mode

The Mosely family runs sheep, cattle and goats across 26,000 hectares of owned and leased country south of Cobar.

During the drought they entered "survival mode" — but now that seasonal conditions have improved, demand for their stud rams is on the rise.



This week the Moselys sold all their rams at a large sale in Cobar.

"People have feed in the paddock now and are wanting to rebuild and get their breeding operations going again," Andrew Mosely said.

"Twelve months ago it was a matter of battening down the hatches … it was survival mode, really.

"[Now] we've got a mile of green feed around and the stock are doing really well.

"We've got plenty of water — it's fantastic."



More rain needed for some

While some farmers have enjoyed a return to good conditions, the drought endures for others.

Some farmers near Louth, north of Cobar, are still feeding their stock by hand.



The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) combined drought indicator showed the Cobar region was experiencing three different conditions — drought, recovering and non-drought.

The DPI's data was based on rainfall, soil moisture and pasture/crop growth indices.

Cobar Rotary Club president Gordon Hill said requests for drought assistance had eased, but many farmers required ongoing help to buy essentials.

"We're looking at providing more fodder to those in the north-west corner near Louth," Mr Hill said.

"They need it the most right now."

The club has just eight members, but in the past two years it has distributed more than $800,000 worth of goods to farmers.

"There are about 150 properties in the Cobar region and we've been in regular contact with over half of them," Mr Hill said.

The club has distributed almost 500 grocery packs, 26 pallets of working dog food and 20 road train loads of fodder.

"It could take some producers up to two years before they are back to any meaningful income," he said.

"We'll be here for them."


- ABC

© ABC 2020

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