ACCORDING to PIRSA's most recent Crop and Pasture Report, released in late August using data from early July, SA is on-track for its best harvest result in three years.
That's good news, right?
Partially, yes, because some regions have enjoyed a kinder season than last year so far. But in many cropping areas the improved start will mean little if good spring rains don't arrive soon. Again we find ourselves on a knife-edge, and the next Crop and Pasture Report might tell a different story.
For some, this year is already a write-off. Clouds of dust are more common than rain clouds, paddocks sown to crops remain bare and more and more livestock is being sold just to help producers make it through. The prospect of another year without any income is real.
It's important our governments to take a close look at their drought support efforts, and ask themselves - 'have we really done all we can for our farmers?'
I'm not sure those outside agriculture quite understand the long-term impact of producers being forced to sell of their core breeding stock. It isn't just a case of 'sell some off today, buy more in when it rains' - the numbers won't be there, the costs will be astronomical, and how do you replace something you've slowly built up across years and years?
Let's not forget how much it costs just to produce a crop these days. Paying for fuel, seed and fertiliser to sow a crop, only to get nothing back at the end of the season is a huge test for even the biggest overdraft.
Governments can't make it rain, but they can do their utmost to support sections of our community most in need, and at the moment that includes plenty of farmers.
Where else would you get a significant number of full-time workers facing months or even years with no income?
Related reading:Pleas for help tipped to rise as season takes turn
And let's remember that while there's no money coming in, there's still plenty being paid out. Bills don't stop just because it doesn't rain. Feed and water costs, council rates, emergency services levy bills - the list goes on - are further stretching those struggling most.
When it finally does rain, how much debt will farmers be left with? The grass might grow quickly, but the recovery for our farming businesses will be much slower. Some will never recover.
That's why it's important for our state and federal governments to take a close look at their drought support efforts, and ask themselves - 'have we really done all we can for our farmers?'
At this stage, I'm not convinced they have.
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