The announcement by Minister Tim Whetstone that the State Government would be appointing eight Family and Business (FaB) Support Scouts could not have come at a better time for those South Australian farming families dealing with challenging seasonal conditions.
I recently joined the Tuckey Ag Bureau ‘Sticky Beak’ day.
The area exhibits a cross-section of soil types and rainfall so typical of that part of the EP with ‘Dune Swale’ being the predominant landform.
Unfortunately, many of the sand-hills were left bare and exposed following poor winter rains and are very vulnerable to what seemed to be weekly wind events.
The Cleve and Franklin Harbour district councils have had rural roads closed due to topsoil drifting over the road from adjacent paddocks.
This is something I’ve not seen to this extent since the drought year of 1977.
We also observed reasonable crops on the flats, some of which had been affected by frost.
A cereal plant is particularly vulnerable to frost when in the flowering and grain fill stage.
When damage occurs the plant shuts down and grains abort. I expect that much of this area will be cut for hay.
Fortunately, hay is in demand and fetching a good price.
Some farmers were able to sell their hay even before baling!
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom.
For those fortunate enough to have some reasonable crops, or livestock in their system, there will be the benefit of strong prices.
The FaB Support Scouts will be operating across the drier parts of the State and will provide an experienced, confidential, and independent ear and counsel that could provide a world of difference.
The scouts will work closely with the Rural Financial Counselling Service.
Other extra measures include working with Livestock SA to connect fodder with those in need, workshops on animal health and nutrition, managing soil erosion, and planning for next season.
We’ll also be liaising with SA Health to coordinate support services.
Those requiring advice or assistance can contact the 24-hour Agriculture and Animal Health Welfare Hotline on 1800 255 556.
Member for Flinders Peter Treloar