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Kyogle Shire - 'One of the worst droughts ever': Farmers plead for help

SOME farmers in the Kyogle region are being forced to get rid of all the stock on their properties due to ongoing drought conditions.

The Kyogle local government area is still classified as "in intense drought conditions”, but the council is missing out on Australian Government support.

After being approached by concerned farmers, Councillor Robert Dwyer suggested the council should ask the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources to include the LGA in the Australian Government's Drought Communities Program.

His motion at Monday night's council meeting was carried unanimously.

Mummulgum beef producer Di Pratt was one of the residents who approached Cr Dwyer and she addressed the council at the meeting.

"I believe the Kyogle shire has been ravished by one the worst droughts ever experienced,” she said.

"Although we have benefited recently from some rain activity, creating a green drought... overall the entire Kyogle shire is still affected by varying degrees of drought severity.

"Many Kyogle shire farmers and the communities in general are suffering economically and physically due to persistent drought circumstances.”

The full-time farmer said she "would like to leave her personal grief due to the drought out of it” but that properties closer to Tenterfield were in a "dreadful state”.

The Drought Communities Program Extension was announced in October 2018 with the initial list of 40 eligible councils in NSW including the adjacent Tenterfield Shire Council.

Each eligible council receives $1 million in drought relief funding.

The eligible councils were selected based on the level of need, determined using rainfall deficiency data from the Bureau of Meteorology, in conjunction with population and industry data (reliance on agriculture) to assess the overall economic impact of the drought in the region.

Cr Dwyer said it rested on the council as to what the $1 million in funding was spent on.

"Some of these people have indicated that they have totally de-stocked their properties through lack of water and feed and have no other means of income, therefore they are in direct need of being able to qualify for drought relief assistance under the various government programs,” he said.

"If we are successful at getting this $1 million, I'd like to see it all spent west of the range in those smaller communities.

"We rely heavily on our farmers for our local economy and we need to show them we stand behind them and support them all the way.”

Cr Lindsay Passfield agreed it was a "really serious drought situation”.

"As far as water goes there are a number of properties in that northern area, west of the range near Woodenbong which are virtually out of water in some paddocks,” Cr Passfield said.

"The feed situation is also dire.

"It takes weeks of solid rain to break a drought. The people with a substantial second income will get by but those people who totally rely on the industry to keep going are suffering.”

Level two water restrictions are still in place for Kyogle, Bonalbo, Urbenville, Muli Muli and Woodenbong.

Kyogle Council general manager Graham Kennett said if Bonalbo didn't get rain and see a see a flow return to Peacock Creek within the next month, the council would look at moving to level three water restrictions.

Level 4.5 water restriction are still in place at Tenterfield Shire.

DRY SPELL: Properties close to Tenterfield west of the range in the Kyogle Shire are still experiencing severe drought conditions. Zoe Lederhose

© Northern Star (Digital edition) - by Francis Witsenhuysen 15 May, 2019.

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