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Cobb takes stock of Central West harvest

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John Cobb, MP 

Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security  Member for Calare 


Cobb takes stock of Central West Harvest

Monday, December 13, 2010

Many Farmers will have to spray crop to be able to harvest it, particularly barley and wheat crops flat on the ground due to flood and rain, Federal Member for Calare and Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, John Cobb, said today.

“I have never seen this before, nor seen barley shooting in the head the way it currently is,” Mr Cobb said.

“Crops are regrowing within their own mass and re-growing of leaf, not just shoots. Meaning farmers will not only have to pick it up off the ground, but kill the newly emerging re-growth to make harvest possible.

“This is a mental trial, as well as a physical and financial trial.

“From not enough, or totally inconsistent rain, to this sort of deluge that has produced these record crops to be faced with an even wetter situation than 1983-84, is mentally devastating, as well as financially.

“Farm families are tough by their very nature and mother-nature has exceeded her previous ability to deal a cruel blow.

“Having said that, the ones that can pick it up and can still harvest crops with all the extra costs involved may be the fortunate ones.

“For most Australians, the heavy rain means minor inconveniences and minimal damage to household goods, but for farmers it means phenomenal financial losses in excess of $3 billion across the agriculture industry.

“The big wheat, barley and canola areas of our region, Forbes, Parkes and Western Cabonne, are not pretty at this time.

“Meeting with farmers on their properties from west of Peak Hill, north of Forbes and back to Molong, is a stark to the reality of just how tough mother-nature can be.

“With promising seasonal conditions this year, farmers had just started to harvest crops in this region with record yields and fantastic prices. Canola was yielding 2 tonnes or better per hectare with excellent oil content and good prices, as were grain prices with yields of 5 tonne per hectare quite common.

“Many farmers have ploughed every cent they had into this years crop in a bid to recover from the past ten years of drought and regain some financial stability.

“Most have experienced either direct flood damage or enormous amounts of rain, and now must take a grim step forward and find ways to salvage what is left,” Mr Cobb said.

Mr Cobb said that as the situation continues to evolve, there is still a real unknown about the final outcome.

“We have no idea how much country will actually be unharvestable, nor how badly damaged the crops will be. It is still very much a waiting game.

“Farmers in Forbes and Parkes have had more than double their average annual rainfall; unfortunately over 250mls of this has fallen during the harvest period. That is more than the entire 2006 year’s rainfall just during harvest.”

Rainfall (mm) Forbes in 2010 = 868, Nov/Dec = 263, Average is 419 Parkes in 2010 = 1022, Nov/Dec = 266, Average is 428

The impact of the rain has been widespread across NSW and the Eastern States with 45 Council areas declared as disaster areas and 35 of those are in NSW.

With the onset of the rain farmers across NSW were at various stages of harvest. In Northern NSW it appears up to 40 percent of the crops have been harvested. In the Central West around 10-20 percent had been harvested before the rain.

However in Southern NSW and Victoria, harvest has barely begun and is shot before it does.

Media Contact Samantha Neal 02 6361 7138 0438 300 101