Be pre­pared for dry to get worse

Tasmanian Country - - OPINION - Wayne John­ston

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.

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