The Drought – from our Boarders’ Perspective

It has been extremely moving seeing the amount of support farmers and their families have received these last months. However, the majority of NSW has been in drought for longer than has been in the public eye. The drought has not only had a devastating impact on farmers and their work, but has profoundly impacted rural and remote communities.

I come from Denman – situated three hours northwest of Sydney. Although I don’t live on a farm, both my parents grew up on the land and know the first hand struggles of the drought. My extended family has been in the agricultural business for several decades through the local CRT (known as DAPKOS). I spoke with my aunty who explained that “since February there has been a significant increase in the amount of feed that has been sold and brought into the store.” Although it has been great for the community to have access to the products, the high demand for feed has resulted in an extreme price inflation – the old supply and demand curve. DAPKOS’ suppliers are struggling to meet the needs of the farmers and have turned to interstate freighting to source their raw materials. The extra travel and labour required all adds to the cost of the final product. So for farmers who are struggling financially, the cost of feed is simply too expensive for them. DAPKOS is not only dealing with the effects of the drought but they also lost 35 clients when Mangoola Mine opened – the drought has had a domino effect on many businesses all over NSW.

My family has always supported local businesses. We buy food locally, shop locally and work locally. My aunty summarised it very nicely in saying “they rely on us and we rely on them.” Businesses in Denman rely on the dedicated customers in order to have an income. However, with the drought there has been increase in price due to limited food sources and scarce access to water. Fortunately, the Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair (annually hosted by Denman) has showcased all the town’s businesses bringing people from all over the Hunter and coastal regions to our town. Word of mouth brings the weekend tourists and grey nomads back all year round allowing our town to cope with the financial stress of the weather conditions. As Denman is conveniently situated half way between Newcastle and Dubbo, it has become a great pit stop for commuters.

The local Lions Club are leading their ‘Need for Feed’ campaign with great success, bringing the community together to support one another. Donations have been made by companies and individuals in order to gift farmers and their families with the supplies they need in order to survive on the barren land.

At the forefront of all drought relief initiatives is awareness. It’s about spreading the word that everyone back home and all over rural NSW are doing it tough on the land.  I invite you to squeeze the family into the car, take a road trip out to the ‘bush’ and stay the night. Do some early Christmas shopping, eat out, do a winery tour or check out the tourist attractions – the community will be more grateful than you think.

 

Clodagh Bray

Boarding Captain