Weather News

NSW farmers look for financial help after suffering crop losses in freak hailstorms

By Lucy Thackray, Tim Fookes and Cara Jeffery, Friday October 30, 2020 - 06:38 EDT
ABC image
Some farmers in NSW are counting the cost after their crops were damaged by hailstorms. - ABC

A day after being battered by a freak hailstorm that wiped out his crops, Mark Hoskinson was busy filling out the paperwork to make an insurance claim.

As soon as the farmer from the NSW Central West heard the roar of the hail, he realised what would happen to his crops.

"It built up to the west of us and when it arrived it left about [15 centimetres] of hail on the ground," Mr Hoskinson said from his property at Kikoira, 70 kilometres west of West Wyalong.

"Most of my crops across a couple of kilometres have been affected, from a total wipe-out of my oats to knocking the grain out of my wheat crop.

"My neighbours and I have had some beautiful-looking crops, which have either gone or have been knocked down."

Mr Hoskinson said every year he made sure he had insurance cover for hail in case his crops were damaged.

"This will be our third year of a smaller harvest, two years of drought and now the hail damage," he said.

"You can just about guarantee that every year coming out of drought you'll get weather damage from hail.

"It's not the first time this has happened to me and I'm glad I was insured this year. I couldn't afford not to be."

'We're trying to beat the rain'

As the thunder roared above and the dark grey clouds rolled in, Martin Mallon stood in his paddock looking to the sky.

The farmer, from Quambone on the NSW Western Plains, remained optimistic his property would remain unscathed from rain and hail that was falling nearby.

As the daily storms rolled in, farmers across the state were beginning to harvest their crops and families were glued to weather forecasts and rain radars to monitor conditions.

"The thunder we are getting every day lets us know we might get rain that we don't need right at the moment," Mr Mallon said.

"We've had some really good rain this year, but we're having to harvest as quickly as possible because of the threat of more rain or a storm."

"We're doing as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to beat the rain."

Mr Mallon said a heavy rain event during harvest would cause losses to his crop's protein and weight.

"But even if it is impacted, it'll still be the best harvest we've had in the past four years," he said.

Farmers seek financial help

Some farmers who have suffered crop damage were able to claim through their hail insurance.

But financial counsellors are beginning to field inquiries from farmers who have lost crops or experienced damage in the recent rain and are not covered.

NSW Central West Rural Financial Counselling Service chief executive Jeff Caldbeck said he was concerned there was not a lot of support for those whose crops had suffered rain damage.

"The rain can be the issue when crops are damaged and you aren't covered for it like with hail," Mr Caldbeck said.

"After the drought, people have been looking at this year's harvest as the one that might get them out of trouble.

"But if you get to the point where you've spent money on your crop, which you lose, you go looking for support measures to help you."

Mr Caldbeck said farmers who had suffered rain damage would benefit if the event was classified as a natural disaster.

"Given how spasmodic the rain and storm activity has been in recent weeks, it wouldn't be classed as a natural disaster yet," he said.


© ABC 2020

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