A long dry winter has Eurobodalla Shire farmers anxiously hoping for rain.
The NSW Government has declared most of the Eurobodalla shire drought-affected.
Dairy farmer Robert Eder said supplementary hay and grain for livestock during winter was standard in the shire, but rain was essential to bring on spring pastures.
“If we don’t get it soon, we’ll be in a world of hurt,” Mr Eder said.
Although the Bodalla farmer said his pastures were currently “on par” with this time last year, supplementary-feed costs had increased dramatically this year due to drought-conditions across the state.
“We are paying $490 per tonne for crappy cereal hay,” Mr Eder said.
“(It’s) almost double what you would expect to pay – that’s if you can get it.”
He said the situation was worrying.
“There’s no guarantee it is going to rain. If it doesn't, we’ll run out out of feed in a month or two,” Mr Eder said.
Vegetable farmers are also feeling the pinch, however SAGE market manager Kate Raymond emphasised a range of factors determined how much produce got to market.
“We always see a seasonal reduction in winter,” Ms Raymond said.
“Drought just compounds things when farmers are already dealing with complexities.”
She said the shire’s food systems were made up of people, not factories, and a drop in the amount of produce was due to factors such as farmers taking a break or losing access to land.
Ms Raymond said the lack of rain had more effect on farmers without access to water from rivers or dams, and the occasional hot-weather days were also taking a toll.
“The winds dry out the soil and the plants,” she said.
“It also confuses the plants – should they mature, should they flower?”
Ms Raymond said there were five steps people could take to support the shire’s food growers:
- Shop at the farmers market first, then shop at an independent grocer/butcher/baker, then shop at the supermarket;
- Shop regularly, at least weekly;
- Buy what’s on offer and then find a recipe for those ingredients;
- Ask for ‘local food’ at your grocer, butcher, cafe and restaurant; and
- Find a friend to go shopping with you.