Big dry is starting to bite
By HELEN JACK
THE big dry has hit the Northern Rivers, with parts of the Richmond Valley and Kyogle districts now officially in drought.
Bonalbo farmer Roy Vary heard about the declaration yesterday morning, which moves the northern part of the Casino Rural Lands Protection Board area from 'marginal' to 'drought' status.
Mr Vary said while it was a worry, he was confident much-needed rain was on the way.
"We have more of a green drought," he said. "Here we don't look that bad because we have a bit of green pick in the paddocks, but water is a big problem. "This time of year the dew is so heavy it's as good as rain as far as keeping the grass alive."
"It's hard to tell how long it will go on for. I know one fella who's been keeping a rain chart and he says rainfall runs in 40-year cycles.
"And it's about at the bottom on the turn."
Casino Rural Lands Protection Board manager Peter Baum said areas north of Kyogle were drought declared in February, but the big dry had been creeping further south. "Firstly, this means that farmers in these areas will have access to government subsidies to help pay for the transport of water, fodder and stock," he said.
"The area has been in and out of drought since 2000, and there has not been a prolonged period of good rain and conditions to help farmers and business people recover financially. This is particularly relevant to dairy farmers."
Mr Baum said to reverse the situation the Far North Coast needed a significant rain event to replenish water ways and storages, followed by a prolonged sequence of lesser rain events.