Drought co-ordinator not enough for communities

THE government's response to the state's worsening drought conditions must go beyond the appointment of a new drought coordinator.

Many farmers have been or are, actioning the strategies they have in place to manage the ongoing impacts of the hottest and driest April in 20 years, but it's important politicians listen to farmers' concerns.

While well-intentioned, the appointment of a drought coordinator will not address the needs of farmers who have limited access to water or feed, and no rain.

As the drought conditions worsen, farmers will be making hard decisions to manage their enterprises, families will be managing tightening budgets, and local suppliers will see falling trade.

It will be critical that the NSW Government also commits to expanding the highly effective Farm Innovation Fund providing low income loans for farm improvements; ensures ongoing availability of Drought Concessional Loans; and increases the capacity of regional programs particularly for financial counselling; as well as those supporting wellbeing and good mental health.

We also call on the NSW Government to set funding aside for a Drought Preparedness Centre of Excellence, as well as three additional Doppler radars to cover the Central West and the Western Division of the State to enhance weather forecasting and climate data gathering and analysis.

Sonia O'Keefe, 

NSW Farmers' rural affairs committee chair

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