Regional NSW is still in the grips of the worst drought on record with 99 per cent of the state still drought affected, despite recent rain in coastal areas and some inland regions.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro today spoke with farmers, families and business owners in Yass, Boorowa, Cowra and Orange about the drought and reassured them that they have not been forgotten.
“The recent downpours were a welcome relief, but people need to understand that many parts of the state did not receive a single drop and that 99 per cent of the state, particularly areas like the Far West, Central West and Southern NSW, remain in drought,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The drought is not over, far from it, and I want farmers, families and businesses to know that, while there has quite rightly been much attention given to firefighting and recovery efforts, our focus and commitment to drought support and response has not wavered.
“I am looking forward to the day I can say the drought has broken but that day is not today.
“The recent rain has given a lot of communities hope for the future but for those who have missed out it is a tough pill to swallow. We will continue to stand by them until this drought breaks.”
Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall said a further 50mm of rain is forecast on the North Coast for the coming week, following similar falls last week, however it will take months of sustained and widespread rainfall to break the drought.
“I’m sure many people have seen photos of green grass sprouting in some drought affected areas, but the reality is this recent growth is not that widespread and will provide only limited nutritional value for livestock,” Mr Marshall said.
“In farming areas, stored soil moisture levels remain very low, which shows the recent rainfall hasn’t provided the nourishing effect needed to improve conditions, while algal blooms and further fish kills remain a very real possibility across multiple regions.”
Mr Barilaro said as of February 2020, more than $1.9 billion has been committed to the Emergency Drought Relief package to help farmers and regional communities, on top of the $1 billion Safe and Secure Water program which is delivering water infrastructure that boosts drought resilience.
“We haven’t stopped and we won’t stop delivering for drought affected communities. Despite the bushfires, the bushfire recovery operation and despite recent rain, our commitment to regional towns suffering through this overwhelming drought is unwavering.”