When my husband and I set out on this hard working adventure to earn our own land, we were well aware of many of the hardships we would be battling. The horrendous cost of infrastructure, the task of developing the land, stocking costs as well as choosing the best breeds of sheep and cattle for the land we bought.
Drought, flash floods, disease and deficiencies are all things you are aware of when you have lived on the land, and you do as much as you can to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best.
One thing we were not completely prepared for, was just how much the Government and the Shires would pull together to make our journey so much harder and more draining.
I am not 100% if all the costs we face are the same as other states, but I will give you a couple examples of the ridiculous ways the government rips off the hard working Farmer.
Our property had not been farmed or lived on for 20 years when we bought it, it was run down and the fences were all flat on the ground, no house and no stock yards. There was an old access road up the back of the property that we could only find on an old Google map, it possibly had not been used for 30 or more years and was definitely not accessible any more. We have to pay rent to the government of over $400 a year, on a road that is no longer there. We can buy it, after putting in an application and then paying $4000, so we no longer have to rent a road that doesn’t exist and cannot be used.
Another cost, in the tax on the livestock, it is about $1.50 a head per year. This isn’t the worst of it; we also have a tax on the potential stock we possibly could be running in a good season. So for the ¾ of our property that we have not yet been able to afford to fence and therefore use, we are still paying money on the livestock that could possibly be there!
Should I even go into the garbage collection fee in the rates, when the closest the garbage truck comes is over 60km away?
These are just a few little costs of injustice that we personally face, As do many farmers. The little things that make important development like laying Polly pipe for a good watering systems, near impossible. The amount of bills that come in each year, to drain us of any hope to stock up on feed when prices are low, to fence more paddocks so we can rotational graze to improve the land.
Often on the land, you feel you are climbing up a cliff, with no safety harness, and at the top of the cliff you have the Greens, the government and big animal welfare groups hurling rocks and boulders at you, often hitting you and making you fall back to the bottom. So many farmers are starting to give up. And why shouldn’t they? The support is getting scarcer and country troubles are being pointed at them so frequently.
Only yesterday did I hear of any news of the government having a plan for drought assistance. Maybe I have been too busy battling the drought to have heard earlier, but until then, I thought they had forgotten us. While helping other countries to secure allies, they had forgotten to support the legs they stand on.
We have been offered rebates here in NSW, $2000 for yard upgrades and $2000 for water set up to help with the drought. Its no good to us however, as we have to spend the money on the materials, then apply to get it back and it is not guaranteed. If we had $2000 to put into setting up water, we would have done it months ago.
So many cattle graziers and farmers are in the same boat, offered rebates, only after they have spent the money they don’t have, and given no guarantee of getting that money back, and no time frame it may be given after the application is submitted.
Up until 3 weeks ago, our spring fed dam was holding up well, the spring was filling it each night and our main concern was feed. However, the day I saw the dam had not risen during the night I felt my heart sink. If we run out of water, it will be over for all out current stock. We will have to put any animals we cannot sell to sleep. And we will have to leave. There is no other option.
Until I saw the comments and how many followers we have on this page, I honestly thought that the rest of the population of Australia was with the government and Greens, throwing rocks at the people who provide food for their families. Now I have seen that there are people out there that not only have compassion for the sweat and tears we shed, but actually want to help. This has touched my fellow country girls and me. To know that there is someone there at the top of the cliff that will try to throw a rope, to aid the farmer that is battling the cliff of bills, heart ache, starving animals and feed costs too high to even consider.
The unfortunate thing is despite there is no income in the drought, when the market flops, the bills don’t stop.
Not only will we loose the farmers that have had to destroy all their livestock, and had nothing left. But we will lose the farmers that can no longer pay their bills, and instead of being shown understanding and compassion, they will have their land taken from them by the banks. Leaving them nothing for the years and years of hard work they have put in.
Thank you to everyone who is following our blog, and for the kind comments and words of encouragement.
I hope the drought breaks before we see another farmer fall.