Dry weather a concern for sheep feed

THE State Government will be watching the unfolding season closely according to Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan.

Ms MacTiernan visited Geraldton last week to gain a first-hand look at the dry conditions. 

She met with several grower groups from the northern agricultural areas, and said the main concern was the lack of livestock feed.

“The grains are gone and there is just not enough feed for sheep and they can’t get hay,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“Also, part of the concern was that they can’t even move livestock south because there wasn’t any rain there, but that that might be improving obviously.

“I’m very conscious that we’ve got this problem with the livestock and if there’s not even enough rain for bit of pasture and no one is producing hay – that’s going to be another layer of a problem that we have to deal with.

“We do have to keep a watching eye on this hay problem and on this pasture problem.”

Ms MacTiernan said in terms of what assistance government may be able to provide, farming is a business like every other business and bad seasons are always going to be a part of the mix.

“We really have to provide for that in the business model and I think the vast majority of farmers absolutely understand that,” she said.

“We want to look at what we’re going to do in terms of making insurance something that is more a standard part of business practice.

“If people believe the Farm Managed Deposits don’t do it for them, well let’s look at what seems to be much more regularly used elsewhere which is an insurance scheme and we’ll be doing some more about that.

“We’re working on the drought concession scheme, we’re certainly keeping an eye on what’s happening with this hay situation and the feed but if there is a tangible thing that someone wants us to do which is not underwriting the industry then of course we will consider it.” Ms MacTiernan said there had been negotiations taking place with the Federal Government on granting WA growers access to the Commonwealths Drought Concessional Loans Scheme. 

She said she would know more as this week unfolded about where those negotiations stand.

“The fundamental thing we need to sort out first up I think is to give some knowledge in advance to farmers that these schemes will be available, is to get that eligibility criteria sorted out,” she said.

“The actual crisis in terms of cash is some time away.”