Central West Lachlan Landcare (CWLL) acknowledged the hardworking families that contribute to our agricultural industry this week, celebrating Ag Day on Tuesday. It is with that in mind that I write this week’s column. We all would have witnessed the amazing lightening show that preceded the rain last Thursday evening across the two shires. I was out clumsily trying to catch that perfect lightening shot in the dark and just hoping that the storms kept going after the first wave of lightening and thunder early in the evening.
Even though the sound of rain would normally be satisfying, thinking about our lovely full tanks, we were aware that many farmers in our area had already been facing a difficult dry winter and it was the last thing they needed. Unfortunately, there were properties in the Back Yamma and some in the Cookamidgera area which suffered severe hail damage on Thursday, with some properties experiencing three separate storms. For some canola crops that were nearing harvest, this has been devastating.
In the past 12 months the Back Yamma area (South of Parkes, adjacent to the Newell Highway) has been hit several times with storm events. The last storm, in March, coincidently on the day of the Back Yamma Landcare Group AGM, caused significant flooding, flattening many kilometres of fencing through to the Livestock Exchange. The main difference with this event and the normal flooding, was the ferocity with which the rain hit in such a short timeframe, which caused unexpected flooding in areas that would not normally be impacted in the way they were. These events are not recognised for disaster relief and because of the humility of most landholders, the wider public don’t hear about it. Apart from the significant impact on fencing in March, there were also reports of stock losses, either as a result of hail or stress from the storm itself, the financial cost of which is just consumed as part of the farming business.
After several of these events in the last 12 months, the cost also extends to our Council’s road infrastructure and the cost to repair, sometimes significant sections of road. Member for Orange, Philip Donato took the opportunity to meet with myself and landholders in the Back Yamma area on Sunday to gain a closer understanding of some of the challenges that farmers face in our local area. He looked over the hundreds of stark white hectares of canola that were hit by the hail on Thursday evening, some of which will not probably be worth harvesting.
After spending some time with farmers at Back Yamma, it was obvious that, as with most farmers in Australia, they know this is one of the punches that they have to role with and are also conscious of the already significant losses that were suffered by many last year in the floods. Landcare and the local farmers who met with Mr Donato appreciated his time and willingness to find out more about these local issues. Until next week.