Macarthur farmers struggling through worst drought on record

Glenmore grazier Gavin Moore is doing it tough on the farm. Picture: Simon Bennett
Glenmore grazier Gavin Moore is doing it tough on the farm. Picture: Simon Bennett

"In all my years growing up on this farm and now running it myself, I cannot remember it ever being this dry."

That's the belief of Oakdale farmer Lynette Rideout-Keanelly.

Ms Rideout-Keanelly said farming in the shire had become a day-to-day struggle.

"So much about farming is planning ahead but it is hard to plan in advance when you are flat out just getting through the day," she said.

"We plant for five years in advance, but we are not getting the growth we used to get."

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) climatologist David Jones said at a recent climate seminar that the current drought had now exceeded the Federation Drought, the World War II Drought and the Millennium Drought in terms of its severity.

"Our records only go back 120 years but in terms of the rainfall records it is the most severe," he said.

Dr Jones added temperatures were as high as they had been during the human era, saying the nearest equivalent was a hot period encountered 2-3 million years ago.

"We are still below that threshold of a couple of million years ago but we are starting to approach it," Dr Jones said.

"Our climate forecasts for the next three months show well below average chances of exceeding median rainfall through most of the Murray-Darling Basin, especially in the north."

Ms Rideout-Keanelly said she wasn't shocked to hear the drought was the worst on record.

She said tougher water restrictions should be considered.

"Water use should not be taken lightly - this drought will soon start to affect everyone - not just farmers," Ms Rideout-Keanelly said.

"It annoys me that people can still hose off hard surfaces and clean out their wheelie bins but I don't have enough water to cover the food we produce to feed people.

"People often say that farmers need to plan for drought but there is no way to prepare for conditions like this."

Lynette Rideout - Keanelly. Picture: Simon Bennett

Lynette Rideout - Keanelly. Picture: Simon Bennett

Glenmore dairy farmer Gavin Moore said future rainfall prospects were looking "pretty grim".

"We are running out of water fast," he said.

"We probably have four months of stock water left in the dams that aren't already dry.

"Our bore has dropped considerably in the last three months as well."

Mr Moore said the odd summer storm wasn't going to be enough to fill dams.

"I don't see any relief insight for the next thee months, by that time we will be heading into the hotter temperatures of summer," he said.

"Hay and grain prices are almost like the black market with most suppliers asking exorbitant prices, charging up to more than three times what the products are worth.

"So prospects are fairly grim going forward for the rest of 2019."

Dilly Drought Drive organiser Sharon Robertson said tougher water restrictions were needed.

"We should basically be on level three restrictions right now," she said.

"The forecast for significant rainfall in December has been pushed back into February and March so we won't be getting enough rain to fill dams.

"We are dropping up to 150,000 litres of water a week to help our primary producers now but this drought will start to affect everyone soon."

The Dilly Drought Drive's bank account details recently changed.

The new account details are: Dilly Drought Drive Rural Aid, BSB: 114 879, account number: 415 417 799.