Australia’s farmers continue to reel from the devastating power of Mother Nature as New South Wales (NSW) was deluged by the most destructive floods in more than 40 years. Bruce Jobson reports.
Farms and houses were flooded; field crops destroyed, animals swept away and hay and feed stocks destroyed.
During the past week more than 40 inches of rain has fallen in certain locations resulting in washed-out roads and tracks, and causing widespread flooding of grazing and crop land.
The region is again at the centre of another environmental and animal welfare disaster with livestock and wildlife unable to escape the fast-rising floodwaters.
Some cattle may not survive the flooding, warned Jennifer McDonald of Kenarie Jerseys, Murwillumbah, NSW.
“There are records of cows surviving a 40 mile swim. Milking cows standing in floodwater three-feet deep get swollen lower legs just from standing in the wet and mud,” she said.
“The cows get extremely cold and continually shiver and its arduous task trying to move animals to safety. Over 24,000 people have been moved to evacuation centres and 1,000 rescues of stranded people.”
Phil Ryan, Hillgrove Dairy, Bega Valley, NSW, said the fast-rising floodwater prevented farmers from getting animals to safety.
He said: “The water in some areas exceeded known flood heights and previous thought safe areas are flooded.
Combined with the incredible speed the water rose, this has resulted in some stock losses.
"Many farmers were severely affected by last year’s bush fires and the prolonged drought. Sadly, some businesses may not survive.”
Husband and wife, Sam and Rachel Nicholson, Boondabah Holsteins, Taree, NSW, had their farm and buildings saturated under three feet of floodwater. The family managed to milk their cows through their flooded-out parlour albeit the milk had to be dumped.
The generosity of Australian farmers in other states immediately swung into action with the mobilisation of hay truck convoys heading into the beleaguered region.
The Need for Feed Disaster Relief Fund responded by coordinating deliveries of donated hay, trucks and fuel to help get feed to livestock.
Twelve months ago, Australia suffered devastating bush fires as temperatures sored above 40DegC and strong winds fanned the flames across farm land, forests and bushland covering a perimeter of 11,952 miles.
In NSW alone, 2.7million hectares of land was devastated by the bush fires.