Bugger the drought! 76



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These sentiments have been slashed into a failing crop by one of our wonderful Wimmera farmers, Wal Meyer of Kaniva and captured by Colin Dyer with a drone.

My first thought was to agree – disaster again. His crops have been massacred by frost, heat and drought and today, as I write this blog, it is 44 degrees outside with a howling north wind strong enough to kill off hope altogether.

But is true Aussie spirit, Wal carved this message as inspiration and not in desperation.

Like many of our Aussie farmers, Wal is doing it hard but this message sums up the basis on which this great nation is founded. ‘Don’t give up, continue to strive and most importantly, keep an eye on your mates’. This is the message that ran through the veins of our convict ancestors, explorers, the men who hacked their way over the mountains to greener pastures, sailed around our island home to map future settlements, builders of vision, our ANZAC soldiers, inventors and medical researchers and for many generations – our farmers.

They plant seed or breed stock every year in the hope that this year will be better than the last.

But they are losing the battle against the elements. Today, Australia is in the grip of yet another drought with a record 80% of the state of Queensland being officially recognised as drought affected. This is certainly a fact here in the Wimmera. They face yet another year of failing crops with little or no yield and the constant worry about how to feed stock in a time of diminishing fodder supplies.

Wal’s message was inspirational in his call to look out for each other, that we will keep going in spite of the drought and we shall overcome. Good onya, Wal!

But the real truth is the farmer is a dying race and this is something we all should be worried out.

Sure, farmers have had good times and for many, this is what keeps them going and hoping for the good times to return but the reality is years of drought, frost, floods and fluctuating world market prices makes this a hard game to play. Succession farmers are becoming fewer as sons and daughters take jobs in the city, through necessity or not wanting to take on the hardships faced by their parents. While some things are beyond our control, in terms of Mother Nature, the supply of water is something we can do something about and it would only take one politician with a vision. A vision that goes beyond the next three years and not just the selfish focus on winning the next election. Where are our visionary politicians?

Visionaries with the determination to push for massive infrastructure projects such as the Ord River project and the Snowy Mountain scheme. Both these scheme provided employment, particularly migrants. We could do it again.

As Dorothea McKellar says we are a land of droughts and flooding rains and the cost to us all through drought and flood is too much to bear.

Stop thinking short term and start thinking about our future and the sustainability of our precious farmers. Don’t sell off their land, don’t trash their role in the market place (we want to eat Australian grown produce) and give us a chance to be the food bowl of the world.

So have we got the vision to bugger the drought one-way or the other?


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Sue Farnham

  1. Your politicians were going about the country with a climate change sceptic holding meetings telling everyone climate change is rubbish. So instead of acknowledging tough times were likely, working out strategies to cope with some of the probable outcomes there was a collective burying of heads in the sand. They are still approving CSG wells all over the country despite the threat to our underground water, if that is lost the farmers in drought areas and many others who rely on that water source are absolutely stuffed. I cannot understand why these farming communities apparently still vote for these turkeys. The message farmers are doing it tough isn’t a universal Australian message as our local grain producers have had successive good years.

    8 REPLY
    • “Your” politicians – interesting verb; that means you don’t live here? Have you lived or extended visited The Outback? CSG is a devisive issue between farmers themselves, not confined to politicians. Climate Change “scare mongering” has made Al Gore even more wealthy & ( like “our” Tim Flannery) his predictions have not come true. Good reading your comment though

    • Michele I am an Australian and live in South Australia in a country area where our farmers aren’t doing it tough. Those who manage their farms well are among the wealthiest members of the community with several good years and no really horrendous year recently. I say your politicians as they were NSW and Qld politicians. Many of the initial rather hysterical claims re climate change haven’t occurred but to deny it out of hand seems foolish when the majority of governments around the world accept the advice and evidence from scientists that climate change is occurring. Some in the climate change movement may make money from speaking tours, book sales and renewable energy investment. This pales into insignificance when you consider the money being made by the big polluters. The Koch brothers in the US have contributed millions into climate sceptics pockets, even funding science departments in US universities on the proviso they quieten down about climate change. It costs them far less than cleaning up their act. In Australia if you follow the money, you will find mining and politics intertwined. The evidence from CSG from overseas shows town’s water supplies damaged by CSG wells leaking huge amount of CSG into the environment with miners unable to determine how to cap the well.

    • Owen I think maybe you looked in the mirror as you typed your comment. The weather changes day to day year to year. It has been proven however that climate is changing to the detriment of our Grandkids future. Hottest days, hottest months, hottest years have been recorded over the last few years.

    • Michelle Orban, time to wake up and face the fact that climate change is really happening. So you know more than every one else do you?

    • Owen Gustafson, why go as low as too call anyone an idiot because they have a different view. You are wrong here your head is buried in the sans.

  2. My message is simple, remember the Frozen Berry scare?, if we have no farming because farmers are pushed off the land, those Frozen Berries will be the tip of the iceberg, because all our food will have to be imported. Our farms and our Farmers are vital for this country and our health

    3 REPLY
    • So true Libby, and just why are we running out of infants powered milk in our supermarket ‘s, because those Chinese people who are in the know and can afford to import food from Australia are doing so, because they don’t trust the food grown in China , and that’s just a small example!!

    • Ann Burgess , Remember when China wouldn’t take our contaminated dairy foods and that’s only a small example.

  3. Food security is probably THE most important aspect of this article – we need to be independently able to feed ourselves. ALL steps that can ensure this should be bipartisan to ALL our governments, not just one or two politicians. Firstly, stop changing the zoning of good farming land to other purposes. Secondly, look at getting water to sensible locations so that farming can be undertaken in those areas. Thirdly, ensure that people want to live and work in those areas.

    1 REPLY
  4. A highly significant question indeed: Where are the ” visionary Politicions ” , are they also a dying breed, and , drought effected between the ears .?.is it that hard to work out a way.?.God help the farmers, cos the current mob don’t..!!

    4 REPLY
    • We have less visionary politicians every election. Would be politicians are coming from the white collar classes – lawyers, accountants, career political operatives. They know nothing about getting their hands dirty, they have never sat on a tractor, planted a crop, milked a cow – nothing that would teach them the value of hard physical work which produces something to sustain the population. And it is our fault because we still vote for these career pollies.

    • RosemaryAnne Lorrimar Could not agree more. They have no life experience but believe they are the privilege ones.

  5. When our government felt the need to insulate us from the GFC, I wrote to many parliamentarians suggesting instead of pink batts etc why couldn’t we have more vision & do something about water catchment. The amount of water lost without replenishing the land is heartbreaking. Australia has always been a tough, hard place – but we are smart enough (e.g. Snowy Mountains Scheme) to solve issued; just takes politicians with vision & determination

  6. We are at a point in our history when decisions must be made. Mining with it’s unsure future or the safeguarding of our water supply and our agricultural industry. We do not know how deeply global warming will effect us but now is the time when our future food security is of paramount importance.

  7. The number of our farmers should be increasing, not decreasing, we should not have to rely on imported food, they need help and the sooner the better, maybe farm in other locations where it’s not so harsh, like the farmer who moved his Angus cattle from drought stricken Qld., to Tasmania, a big expense but worth it for us all, in the long run!!!

  8. Australia has a worldwide reputation of producing “clean” food. If we do not develop our agricultural industries now we may well end up importing most of our food. Expensive and giving us less control over what we eat and its quality.

  9. When are governments going to recognise that farmers are on their knees and their importance to Australia

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