Bugger the drought!

These sentiments have been slashed into a failing crop by one of our wonderful Wimmera farmers, Wal Meyer of Kaniva

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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