A survey of the state’s flood-affected farmers has found significant losses across many regions, leading to massive costs as most of the damage is uninsurable.
More than two-thirds of respondents to the NSW Farmers Flood Impacts survey were experiencing flooding for their second year in a row, with more than three-quarters saying they had planted less than half of their usual winter crop this season in response to the wet weather.
NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said the financial impact was set to be enormous, with harvesting efforts delayed by several weeks as floodwater continued to wreak havoc on roads and paddocks.
“Farmers are saying they’re a bit over it, frankly, and it’s not hard to see why,” Mr Martin said.
“We know these farms are homes, not just workplaces, and having to deal with the uncertainty, stress and anxiety of living through this ongoing cycle of natural disasters is challenging.
“When you consider farming has been a pretty expensive operation over the past year, and now so much of the food and fibre we have grown has been destroyed or damaged, it’s really tough from both a personal and a business standpoint.”
More than half of the state’s local government areas were subject to natural disaster declarations following another weekend of intense rain and flooding, and most roads were either heavily potholed or closed in parts, including the Newell. This was having a major impact not only on the movement of trucks and machinery, but also people trying to get about their communities.
Mr Martin said many respondents reported on-farm roads, fences, bridges and culverts would also need to be replaced, with many estimating initial repair bills upwards of $100,000.
“Unfortunately this disaster is not over yet, but we know this year will go down in history not just as one of the worst widespread flooding events we’ve seen,” Mr Martin said.
“A lot of this flood damage cannot be insured against, and we’ll be feeling the impact well into next year in terms of missing the summer sowing window because the ground is still so wet.
“With so many people reporting increased stress and mental health impacts, I’d urge everyone to keep in touch with neighbours. Wellbeing and health support is available, so don’t struggle through this on your own.”
Affected farmers should report any flood damage to their properties to NSW DPI to help get support moving as quickly as possible.