Farmers are fearing a flood of agricultural products, including fruit, vegetable and meat, could flood into their markets as a result of the floods, as the state government scrambles to recover from a severe drought.
Key points:The state government says the flooding will affect about 30,000 farmers in the stateThe state has been forced to cut back on its farm salesThe state is now trying to find a way to compensate farmers affected by the floodsThe state’s farm industry is struggling to cope with a severe weather system that has devastated the agricultural sector of the state, with crops being sold at a loss of value.
The floods have hit the rural economy hard and affected farmers in various ways, with prices of goods like apples, oranges, strawberries and potatoes plummeting.
While the government has already reduced prices on some agricultural products such as apples, it has yet to get rid of them completely, with some farmers unable to sell their produce because they do not have the cash.
The state agriculture minister, Mr David Womack, said on Tuesday that about 30 per cent of the farm sector’s sales were being affected by floods.
“The floodwaters have made it impossible for us to maintain our current level of sales, and our sales are already in the red,” he said.
“There’s been a big decrease in our market prices over the past week.”
It’s a major shock, and it will take some time to recover.
“Farmers have been reporting huge problems in the weeks since the state was forced to slash its farm prices after heavy rainfall forced the cancellation of a major irrigation project.
Farmers say the government is struggling financially as the flooding has affected their ability to sell the product at market prices.
Mr Womacks own farm, which is about a 40km (25 miles) from Wollongong, has been unable to feed its herd of 300 sheep, the equivalent of about 100,000 sheep, and has run out of cash to cover the shortfall.”
We’ve had to cut our prices by half to cover our costs,” he told ABC Radio Wollongs Land.”
And we’re trying to sell our produce at market price and have no money left over to pay the bills.
“Mr Wombacks farm is a major producer of apples, applesauce, apples, peaches, cherries and other agricultural produce.
He said the floods had forced the closure of some of the farms he owned and left others unable to cope.”
My biggest worry right now is we can’t pay our bills.
We’ve got to sell at market,” he explained.”
That’s where we’re at now.
We can’t even sell our crops at the market because there’s no cash to pay for it.
“I’ve been dealing with it all week and I can’t get my bills paid.
The worst thing is we’ve been left with no money to pay our debts.”
Mr Wolcott said it was very difficult for farmers to pay their bills.
“When you’re in the middle of a drought and your crops aren’t producing the quality that you expect, it’s a real concern for me,” he added.
“Our farmers are struggling, and this is a huge shock to us.”
Mr Wisniewski said farmers had to make a tough decision.
“You have to make the difficult decision, and we’re doing it now, we’re going to make it as easy as possible for our farmers to sell,” he continued.
“But the worst thing for them is that they’re not getting their money back.
Farmer David Wisniecki says the state’s farmers are being forced to take out loans to help cover the losses.””
The only way to get that money back is to go to court, so they’re going through the wringer right now.”
Farmer David Wisniecki says the state’s farmers are being forced to take out loans to help cover the losses.
“As a business, you know that it’s difficult to keep going,” he noted.
“They’re struggling and the only way they’re surviving right now, is to get some money out of the system and we need to get the money out, or they’re in deep trouble.”
Mr Nel said he was being forced into the position of not paying his bills and he did not know how long he would be able to keep doing so.
“For some people, it’ll be a month, a year, two years, five years,” he lamented.
“Some people have been in debt for the last 12 months and they’re just not going to pay it.
We’re going into the year of a bad crop, a bad year and the worst is just coming.”