Farmers queue for drought information

Build-up of support: A raft of extra assistance and extension of existing support measures have been introduced in recent weeks, including an extra drought support worker, Pip Brown, based at the Department of Primary Industries’ Dubbo office. The appointment takes the total to 10 drought support workers across the state, who have organised a record number of drought-related information and support activities in the second half of the year.

Info sessions draw thousands: “There has been an amazing attendance at these events recently, with 315 events attracting 17,500 farmers and rural community members in six months," Eggleston said. An updated Managing Drought Guide has been released by the DPI with a new section on planning. It features a simple form to help producers audit their farm resources and work out how long these resources are likely to last.

Hotline working overtime: The drought hotline’s operating hours have been extended to help meet demand, which Mr Eggleston says is continuing to remain at around 80 to 90 calls per week. The state’s rice crop, estimated at 14,000 to 15,000 hectares, will be the smallest for almost 50 years, while the cotton crop of 111,500ha is the smallest in 20 years.

Reference: Drought Hotline, ph: 1800 814 647; Rural Mental Health Line, ph: 1800 201 123; Rural Assistance Authority, ph: 1800 678 593 website: http://www.nsw.gov.au/drought The Land, 25/1/2007, p.1

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