One of the worst droughts in a generation continues to cripple farmers all across Australia and there are fresh calls for hay to stop being exported overseas and instead supplied to farmers doing it tough.
In an exclusive report by The Australian, it is claimed farmers across New South Wales are calling for the federal and NSW governments to declare the current drought plaguing the country a state of emergency. According to the report, this would allow all hay that is being stored and exported overseas to be seized and supplied to Australian farmers.
It is feared that with fodder supplies almost gone, drought-affected live stock could hit the market in a matter of weeks, leaving local farmers broke. While farmers in Australia continue to struggle feeding their starving animals as hay from domestic suppliers has run out, The Australian reports that top-quality hay is being stored across Western Australia and South Australia but is being saved to sell overseas.
This means as Australian farmers continue to struggle, hay is being sent to cattle feedlots, piggeries and dairy sheds in Asian countries including China, Korea and Japan. There are now calls from farming leaders for the government to step in to stop hay exports and for it to be released to local farmers as soon as possible.
“Charity begins at home and we need solutions now, not more heartless responses,” Peter Saunders, farming leader from Cassilis told The Australian. “The hundreds and thousands of tonnes of hay stored in WA sheds must be requisitioned to keep our local animals alive or, without hay, the whole NSW farming sector will collapse within six months.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Fodder Industry Association said the hay being sent overseas only made up 10 to 15 per cent of all hay grown in Australia, with the chief executive insisting things need to be kept in perspective.
It could be argued that farmers selling the hay need to do so because they need to survive, while farmers in most trouble are in a difficult position because they don’t have money to pay for the hay.
The past two months has seen countless reports of farmers struggling in the drought, with some posting images of dead and starving livestock, which has drawn millions of dollars in donations from the public through platforms such as Buy a Bale, Rural Aid and Fiver for a Farmer.
Australia’s biggest companies have made much of their own multi-million-dollar corporate donations to the cause, the big banks in particular, while Australian music icon John Farnham has pledged to headline a drought relief concert later this year. And at the end of July, the New South Wales government announced an additional $500 million in assistance for drought-affected farmers.