GV Hay run

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Des­per­ate NSW farm­ers are re­ly­ing on con­voys of hay from Vic­to­ria, South Aus­tralia and even West­ern Aus­tralia and the truck­ies de­liv­er­ing it say they’ve never seen such dire need.

Chris Red­path, who has run an agri­cul­tural freight busi­ness in cen­tral Vic­to­ria for 15 years, never had to cross the NSW bor­der un­til this year.

‘‘I’ve never carted hay like this be­fore — it’s hor­ren­dous, it’s hor­ri­ble,’’ Mr Red­path said from his base in Avoca.

‘‘Run­ning hay over the NSW bor­der is, in our busi­ness, un­heard of.’’

Mr Red­path’s lat­est de­liv­ery ar­rived at Wayne Dun­ford’s live­stock and crop farm near Parkes in the NSW’s cen­tral west on Mon­day last week.

Mr Dun­ford, whose fam­ily has been farm­ing the area for more than a cen­tury, has spent $100 000 on freighted hay so far this year.

‘‘We got caught short be­cause we came off the back of some other bad years,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve had lit­tle bits of rain but all it does is set­tle the dust.’’

The 68-year-old pointed to a dry, dusty pad­dock past his hayshed and said: ‘‘That should be a foot high’’. He sowed the pad­dock with canola two months ago.

Mr Red­path’s driv­ers are mak­ing the 720 km eight-hour jour­ney to the NSW cen­tral west ev­ery day.

‘‘We’ve ac­tu­ally had to buy more gear to be able to han­dle the job. I should not be cart­ing hay that far,’’ he said.

De­spite the dis­tance, Mr Red­path has found him­self pro­vid­ing emo­tional sup­port to the NSW farm­ers bat­tling the record­break­ing dry spell.

‘‘We’ve never met be­fore and they’re reach­ing out on the tele­phone,’’ he said.

‘‘I had a farmer ring me up the other day

❝I’ve never carted hay like this be­fore — it’s hor­ren­dous, it’s hor­ri­ble. Run­ning hay over the NSW bor­der is, in our busi­ness, un­heard of.❞

Cen­tral Vic­to­rian agri­cul­tural freight con­trac­tor Chris Red­path

and say ‘I re­ally need to know that you’re go­ing to cart up this load of hay be­cause my cat­tle are starv­ing’.’’

The NSW Govern­ment last month an­nounced $500 mil­lion in drought re­lief for farm­ers, tak­ing the to­tal con­tri­bu­tion past $1 bil­lion.

The sec­ond stage of the fund­ing pro­vides freight sub­si­dies of up to $20 000 per farm, which, Mr Dun­ford said, did help: ‘‘Any dol­lar is handy’’.

He will con­tinue to pay for hay to be carted onto his prop­erty un­til the drought breaks. But the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy doesn’t ex­pect that to hap­pen any time soon.

‘‘The bureau’s cli­mate out­look for Au­gust to Oc­to­ber shows high chances of warmer and drier con­di­tions over the droughtaf­fected re­gions,’’ cli­ma­tol­o­gist Si­mon Grainger said.

More than 80 per cent of NSW is now suf­fer­ing rain­fall de­fi­cien­cies, ac­cord­ing to the BoM. The NSW Govern­ment has de­clared 100 per cent of the state droughtaf­fected.

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