Drought-stricken Trangie farmer Ashlea Miles said she felt “reassured” after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Cabinet Ministers visited her family’s ‘Strathmore’ property on Monday.
Mrs Miles, husband Phil and neighbouring farmers met with the senior government figures, including Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, to discuss potential relief measures.
“We developed a number of strategies that could be implemented, not necessarily to do with cash handouts ... but things that are equitable and sustainable for a lot people and that won’t cost the government an excessive amount of money, yet will really ensure that my farm is here for my kids,” she said.
“I feel that [Mr Turnbull] really listened, and not only did he make notes on things and ask really valid questions, he seemed to be able to see a future in things that were proposed as well.”
Mrs Miles said the meeting reassured her family that they weren’t doing it by themselves.
“We're not the only ones going through drought, we won’t be the first, we're not the last and we're not the only area,” she said. “Agriculture is really sustainable … with support from Canberra and local support, the industry will do well.”
For local farmers, the situation is getting serious. Mrs Miles recognised that while the government couldn’t make it rain, they could help make sustainable decisions.
“It's not an easy task … this drought has escalated beyond what anyone … thought. It came out of the blue for us here, we had anticipated rain,” she said. “Not having enough fodder and grain to feed what we have, or move it to the people that need it, it's going to get pretty serious, and if we miss a crop this year the situation is going to get more serious than what it is now.”
Mrs Miles supported Mr Littleproud’s push for a "calm and decisive" response.
“Quick decisions are probably a mistake, we have got time and I think a lot of us have reserves for fodder and grain at the moment,” she said. “They need to be decisions that sustain it over a long term and are not just quick, rash cash handouts that are not going to be out into the right areas.”
She commended the government for taking the time to see what’s going on, saying: “I hope that people don't see this as some sort of stunt. It was an actual, real discussion and I think we all got a lot out of it.”