A firsthand understanding of how drought can impact on people’s emotional well-being, bank balances and farm paddocks has been the catalyst for a series of coming events organised by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
The Dealing with the Dry: Practical help for growers’ forums will be run across northern New South Wales and southern Queensland this month.
Initiated by GRDC Grower Relations Manager Susan McDonnell, the events aim to deliver practical advice ranging from how to talk about debt with your bank manager, to accessing government services and identifying and supporting mental health issues.
“This is the second round of Dealing with the Dry forums we’ve offered, and we are delivering more because the initial response was so overwhelmingly positive,” she said.
“Growers who attended provided extensive feedback and described the farm business and finance presentations as excellent, relevant and offering genuine, practical options. They were also grateful for the support and the fact these workshops were delivered right where they lived.”
A grain grower herself, Mrs McDonnell said the GRDC Dealing with the Dry forums were about reminding people in regional and rural communities across NSW and Queensland that ‘we are all in this together’.
“Unfortunately, like many people living in the bush, I know how tough the situation is. It can be extremely demoralising and leave you wondering how you will get through, both from a financial and psychological perspective,” she said.
“These forums are about bringing communities together and offering support and advice on some really challenging topics, like what we can do to put ourselves in the best possible position for a conversation with our bank manager about debt.
“As growers we all know our long-term business goals have been put on hold due to our income changes with the drought, so this is about understanding the different ways we can effectively manage our debt and limited cash flow while planning for the future.”
Mrs McDonnell said the forums were being delivered in rural and regional communities in severely drought affected regions to ensure those most in need of the information could easily attend.
“The drought raises some really tough questions and the GRDC doesn’t have all the answers,” she said.
“But we are committed to learning from this drought and persevering with research trials wherever we can so that longer term we can better equip growers for dry times, whether that is through more drought tolerant crop varieties, improved water use efficiency or different agronomy tactics.
“The GRDC wants growers, and others involved in our industry, like advisers, transport operators and produce businesses, to know that we will be with them through this and that we will also be there when this drought is over.”
Mrs McDonnell said rural financial counsellors would also be at the forums to explain what government services growers could access during dry times.
“As growers we don’t always have the time to fully investigate options when it comes to government services, so this is a chance to hear what is available and how you can access it,” she said.
Experienced consultants will attend the events to offer guidance on managing dry conditions and farm planning for when the season breaks.
“We have invited experienced local farm advisers to each event to be part of this session so that we are hearing realistic options for local conditions,” Mrs McDonnell said.
“Like many people involved with the GRDC, the drought is my daily reality too and while I know there is a limit to what we can do on-farm while it is dry, there are steps we can take to put ourselves in the best possible position to get through these tough times.”
The free-of-charge GRDC Dealing with Dry forums are open to growers, farm advisers, community members and industry stakeholders. This round of forums will be held on:
- November 11, Meandarra, QLD – Meandarra School of Arts Hall, 1-4pm
- November 12, Felton, QLD – Felton Community Hall, 1-4pm
- November 13, Bellata, NSW – Bellata War Memorial Hall, 10am-1pm
- November 14, Narromine, NSW – Narromine Aero Club, 10am-1pm.