Exhausted farmers trying to clean up fences and fix gates

Farmers are near exhaustion as they begin to clean up after floods that have ravaged NSW’s north.

NSW Farmers dairy member Leigh Shearman said like many of her neighbours she was tired and stressed out, trying to clean up fences and repair gates while also tending to her herd.

“The stress level is huge, we’re all doing our best to help each other,” Ms Shearman said.

“The damage is just so widespread, everything’s gone – no groceries, no fuel, no feed, the doctor, the chemist.

“We just need support now more than ever or the industry won’t bounce back from this.”

On Ms Shearman’s property the paddocks are waterlogged and inaccessible to any vehicles, so soaked that she often loses her gumboots in the mud.

Water troughs and other infrastructure like gates and fences are simply gone, but work is already underway to repair the damage.

“I’m fortunate to have my two sons and my workers here to help me but they’ve all lost so much too,” she said.

“It’s just really sad to have lost our town and to see all this damage.

“We just need to make it as easy as possible to get support – no bureaucratic garbage, that just compounds the stress.”

NSW Farmers Dairy Committee Chair Colin Thompson was flooded in at his property near Cowra last year when heavy rain fell in the Lachlan Valley. He said many dairy farmers in the north were dumping milk because pickups were limited and on-farm storages were full, and there would need to be urgent efforts to rebuild critical infrastructure like roads.

“As a dairy farmer you’re concerned about your herd and I know there’s a lot of farmers up there doing their best to keep their cows healthy,” Mr Thompson said.

“They need to be milked regularly, you can’t just turn them off for a few days, so there’s a lot of health issues to deal with when you can’t milk them.

“They’re getting there but it’s really tough, I think the most important thing will be to get some common sense, on the ground help for them.”

Where phone connections are available, impacted farmers should call the Department of Primary Industries’ emergency hotline on 1800 814 647 to request assistance from Agricultural and Animal Services for animal assessment and veterinary support, emergency fodder and, if required, euthanasia and burial.