2009 a bad year for farmers

FARMERS on the Northern Rivers have battled extreme weather conditions this year, with some saying it was the worst farming year in living memory.

After 35 years on the family property, Cedardale at Ellangowan, Margaret Warne said this year had been the hardest. Extremes of weather, flood then drought, made farming the 570 hectare property difficult, Mrs Warne said.

“The extremes weren’t there in the past,” she said.

High levels of water evaporation in dams led to water shortages for the 260 head of cattle that Mrs Warne and her husband, Neil, run.

Dam levels got so low they had to pump water from their remaining water supply into troughs for the cattle.

Mrs Warne said recent rain was ‘the best gift,’ but she was concerned the climate appeared to be changing.

Coraki farmers Craig and Sue Bell run 100 breeders over three properties.

It has been a tough year on the land for them too.

“The weather has gone from one extreme to the other,” Mr Bell said.

In May they lost all their feed in the flood.

With a grant from the government, they replanted about nine hectares of feed, but without substantial rain in the months after the flood, the crop failed to thrive.

They are now buying feed to supplement their small quantity of pasture.

Now the rain has come, Mr Bell was hoping to plant some feed for next year, but he needs a break in the weather to get the seeds in.

“I’ve got until the end of the month to get it in,” Mr Bell said.

If he fails to do so, he could be facing even tougher times ahead.

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