Income washed away

This photograph from Monday, September 26, shows crop land under water. Local Land Services has received more than 350 reports of losses.

This photograph from Monday, September 26, shows crop land under water. Local Land Services has received more than 350 reports of losses.

The flood waters have receded for Forbes residents, but local farmers are only starting to count the cost of the natural disaster. 

More than 350 reports of losses have been registered with Central West Local Land Services – the state’s estimated damage bill now stands at $720 million. 

The Downie family on the Lachlan Valley Way has poured about 57,000L of milk – and counting – down the drains.

The dairy missed 14 days of milk pickup due to road closures during flooding and just two days after the truck came in, they were cut off again.

“The tanker got to the 21 Mile on Wednesday and found a ute bogged, so they weren’t taking the truck in,” Tim Downie said.

While there’s some water over the road, it’s now the damage that appears to have occurred underneath that’s causing concern.

And it’s not just the financial loss that hurts: it’s the need to milk the cows day after day and just watch the milk go down the drain. 

Central West Local Land Services says some 145,314 hectares of pasture losses have been reported across the state, with more reports expected. 

Badly affected crops – those submerged or inundated for a long period – will be a complete loss in many cases.

It won’t end there: summer crops may be delayed due to conditions and weed issues may be worse in summer and winter crops for seasons to come, Central West LLS officer (mixed farming, Forbes) Dr Belinda Hackney said. 

She added that farmers are now hoping for dry conditions in coming weeks, with the chance that some marginal crops could recover if there’s no further rain.

Farmers are encouraged to call 1300 795 299, email emergency.centralwest@lls.nsw.gov.au or contact their nearest Local Land Services office to report agricultural losses including fencing, crops and stranded, injured or deceased livestock.

Forbes Shire Council on Wednesday lifted the 3 tonne restriction on its unsealed road network, to help residents with the movement of stock, fodder and supplies.

They remind residents to drive to the conditions.

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