Be prepared for dry to get worse
LAST week I spoke about the report card into agriculture and readers will recall on balance it was a positive outlook.
However, with all things agriculture challenges often lurk around the corner. Indeed one is looming in the extreme dry conditions in parts of the state, notably the East Coast and southern regions. National media has focused on the ongoing drought in Queensland, NSW and northern Victoria with little or no attention to what has been happening in Tasmania. We urged people to remember our colleagues on the East Coast when focus was on other states and while that message wasn’t clearly heard at the time it certainly is now.
Some parts of the state are at a critical part of the season if significant rains do not arrive in the next couple of weeks. Farmers should keep preparing for drought-like conditions, including things like destocking or acquiring other sources of fodder for key stock.
While governments at both state and federal level have a number of programs to assist farmers it is ultimately up to us to ensure we prepare and adapt to drought conditions.
Sadly, it is a fact today that in any given five-year period many parts of Tasmania will experience drought conditions, with all the associated negative elements impacting on their businesses. As a sector and as business operators we need to incorporate into plans and projections such scenarios. We need to ensure our business models are structured in such a way that they can cope with such an economic impost.
In concert with this we need to have an infrastructure implementation plan seeking to adapt and mitigate against regular drought conditions. This should include such things as irrigation, water reticulation, installation of dam assets where possible and attention to animal husbandry and management.
Our businesses need to be able to sustain profitability and performance notwithstanding severe weather conditions. The TFGA has been working closely with the State Government, informing them of the changing seasonal conditions. We have been reassured by Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett’s commitment to assisting farmers in whatever way is required to help them address what is turning into a difficult season. In a broader context the TFGA will keep o advocating government and business to ensure there is a comprehensive understanding of severe weather conditions and their impact on the sector.