Farmers say feds must lift NSW flood effort as state prepares for more flooding
The NSW Farmers Association say the current funding support for farmers is nowhere near what was offered earlier in the flooding in the state while the NSW government's last sitting day delivered new mechanisms to prepare for future flooding.
The NSW Farmers revealed on Wednesday that two thirds of farmers surveyed were experiencing a second successive year of flooding, with over three quarters planting less than half their usual winter crop.
The State Emergency Service warned on Friday there is an imminent weekend weather system that could see additional rainfall and strong winds in western and southern NSW. SES chief superintendent Ashley Sullivan told national television:
"This flooding at this rate is anticipated to be around right through Christmas ... and right into the new year."
Association President Xavier Martin said on Friday the $25,000 on offer from the federal government was far short of $75,000 offered to northern NSW farmers previously, and believed the defence force should be deployed further into the crisis:
"There needs to be a rapid and equitable natural disaster response no matter where you live, so people know what to expect and can access the help they need.
"It is critical that the state and federal governments now offer the same sort of support they gave to farmers and businesses up north earlier in the year, because these natural disasters take a long time to recover from – both emotionally and financially.
Mr Martin said landholders in the state's West were facing isolation due to the extensive flooding across the northern Darling River and feeder river and creek systems. The significant concern was the challenge of managing animal welfare – particularly sheep – as the water continued to rise.
NSW Farmers say the federal government should mobilise defence personnel to repair roads so that farmers can harvest what remains of their crops.
The state government announced on Friday the latest funding round of the Floodplain Management Program, this time $9.9 million, whilst also welcoming the passage of the NSW Reconstruction Authority legislation. Emergency Services minister and member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said:
"While our emergency services organisations continue to lead the response to natural disasters, the new Reconstruction Authority will focus on the crucial tasks of long-term rebuilding and risk mitigation."
Hear a full interview with Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke on the Flow podcast player below: