In the past 12 months, our farmers and regional communities have had to face adversity after adversity.
On the back of three years of intensive drought, many key farming regions were then impacted by the horrific bushfires that raged from September to March 2020. If the bushfires did not impact a region directly, those farmers were hit with unprecedented feed costs as key fodder producing regions burned.
The cost of hay pre-bushfire season was already at an all-time high due to poor production caused by the three-year drought.
Our rural communities which had been battling the financial and emotional hardships of the drought then the bushfires, were then hit with the financial impact of COVID-19. These communities are now fighting to survive and rebuild after the loss of tourism which has helped keep many regional areas afloat.
And while it is appreciated that our state and federal governments have had a lot to deal with and that funding for recovery efforts from the bushfire and COVID-19 have had to take priority, the drought still lingers on.
With some farms receiving less than 125mm over the 12 months of 2019, it was hoped that the early pre-winter rains, which dropped upwards of 200mm over a three-day period in early March, would be the start of drought-breaking rainfalls.
While those rains provided a reprieve for some farmers, allowing them the chance to plant winter crops such as oats and barley, the drought lingers on.
As a result of so many other financial commitments required of our governments, our agricultural sector is having to be propped up by the charitable work being done by organisations like St Vincent de Paul, The Salvation Army and Rural Aid.
The cost of production for dairy in northern Australia is significantly higher than in southern states where drought is not such an ongoing climatic concern. Without the terrific work of charitable organisations many dairy farmers in Queensland and NSW would have had to throw in the towel before now.
No one wants to rely on charity to get by. We are a pretty resilient lot, but we also have our pride. We need our governments to look at finding long term solutions to the climatic challenges we face, rather than us having to rely on the goodwill and donations from everyday Australians.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown just how important it is to have a secure domestic food supply. We need to ensure that despite all that nature throws at us, Australia can and will be able to feed its population in the future.
With the Queensland state election looming, we would hope that both sides of the political fence have set aside significant funding to help our rural communities adapt and future proof against this drought that doesn't seem to end.