Farmers are going through a tough time; some are de-stocking, some are soldiering on, some are being taken advantage of.
Like many farmers, Dubbo farmer and stock and station agent David Amor has had difficult decisions to make.
The entire state of NSW has been declared in drought, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries, 61 per cent of NSW is either in drought or intense drought, while nearly 39 per cent is drought affected.
Mr Amor and his wife Alison decided to de-stock their farm due to animal welfare concerns.
“We have run up to 400 Dorper sheep and we trade in lambs and sheep, but we have totally de-stocked,” he said.
“We have been paying top dollar for the best feed we can get, and we were prepared to keep doing that, but we weren’t in a position to keep paying thousands and thousands of dollars a month to feed them, so we made the decision.
“We de-stocked firstly due to the cost of keeping stock, but also it was about animal welfare.
“Everyone is feeding the stock, but I’d much rather sell them for not a big return, I did not want to see our animals dying in the paddock.”
Mr Amor said in his role as a stock agent he talks to farmers daily and knows why many are making a choice to de-stock.
“Most of my clients have built up their flocks or their herds of cattle for many years, for example, one client has a line of stud Merino sheep that he has had going for 50 or 60 years, so they are obviously trying to keep them alive, so they have still got product to sell in the future,” he said.
“But we have got to the point were fodder is hard to find and grain is nudging $500 per tonne, hay is hitting ridiculous amounts of money so now we are starting to see farmers selling their breeding stock.
“It has got to a critical point now, these farmers have done a terrific job in keeping everything alive, but at a cost, and it is breaking people, so they are making the decision to de-stock for both financial and animal welfare reasons. It’s tough out there; no-one knows when this drought will break.”
Keeping stock: At what cost?
Mr Amor’s parent’s in law also own property, both in Narromine and North West of Bourke and have made the decision to keep stock at one property.
“They basically de-stocked the Bourke country about six months ago all bar a few cows, but out at Narromine they’ve been running a shorthorn beef cattle stud for a long time,” he said.
“They want to keep the breeding genetics going, but at what cost?
“People are now selling cows off left, right and centre, so it is hard to sell a bull. The cows are getting fed every day which costs an exorbitant amount of money but if they were to send them to a cattle sale in a healthy light condition they are worth bugger all, so you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Those that decide to keep stock and ride it out need all the support they can get, it is not a decision they’d make lightly.”
- ALSO READ MAKE IT RAIN: NSW government announces drought package for state's farmers
Don’t take advantage of farmers
The mental anguish many farmers are going through is something that concerns many in the community, none more so than Dubbo farmer and stock and station agent David Amor.
“Things have got to a critical point where this will break people, not just financially but mentally,” he said.
“The mental side of what is happening now we’ll probably be dealing with in 12 or 18 months time. Everybody deals with this drought in different ways, my mates and I talk to each other regularly. I haven’t picked up anything with the people that I know that is concerning, but that is not to say that it is not happening out there.
Mr Amor said people should think twice before trying to take advantage of farmers for commercial gain.
“The welfare of people is a big thing that should be looked at in the next little while,” he said.
“People have to be careful not to take advantage of farmers, supply and demand is okay, I don't begrudge anyone making money, but a few stories that I have heard are alarming.
“Farmers have bought hay, agreed on a price, paid a deposit, only to have that seller call them when they are on the way to deliver it and say they have been offered more money for the hay, basically pay me more than what we’ve agreed upon or you won’t get this hay.
“That is a spineless act.”
If you need help, call
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression or would just like to talk to someone, there is help at the other end of a telephone.
Call Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention service on 13 11 14.
Call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or contact them online at https://www.beyondblue.org.au
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