Residents in north-west NSW claim the State Government is ignoring the fact the region is in severe drought and has been for several months.
Latest data from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has revealed that 99% of New South Wales is in one of the four stages of drought and the north of the state is one of the worst-hit areas.
Terry McFarland, a Grazier from north-west NSW said the situation was dire in some parts.
“There is no area close to us that’s actually good. The people that are buying hay at the minute, they’re bringing it in from Victoria and South Australia," Mr McFarland said.
“There’s none closer than that. That’s crazy. That’s the first time I’ve seen this happen in probably about 30 years," he said.
It’s so widespread, I think you have to go near the Victorian border before it starts looking good.”
The data comes from a new hi-tech form of drought mapping used by the Department of Primary Industries, where rainfall, soil moisture and pasture growth data are combined to create the Combined Drought Index (CDI).
The latest data from the Department of Primary Industries
Dr Anthony Clark, Head of Climate Applications and Digital Agriculture at the DPI, said: “One of the big changes we’ve made to drought monitoring is getting a better handle on agronomic drought (ineffective rainfall). That’s being played out right at the moment.”
“Because if you look at things from rainfall alone, it might lead you to the conclusion that in some regions things aren’t so severe,” Dr Clark said.
The three most intense categories an area can fall into currently are: Drought Watch, Drought Onset and Severe Drought.
Dr Clark said that as the categories are brand new, there might be almost no difference in the on-ground conditions between two areas, despite them being labelled differently.
“I really stress the big change we’ve made is the Drought Watch category. There’s been a bit of confusion, we recognise people can be experiencing quite intense drought conditions when they are in the this category."
Despite these new indicators, the government is not obliged to step in regardless of confirmed severe drought.
Terry McFarland’s property is one of many which been placed under Drought Watch.
“I think whatever process they use to justify calling it drought watch… I think they’re a bit behind the 8-ball,” Mr McFarland said.
“This happens quite often. In my lifetime I’ve seen it over and over again that they drag the chain because they don’t want to bring any assistance programs in, and you’re in full fledge drought and have been for quite some time before they actually call it that.”
Dr Clark hopes the new technological breakthrough in drought mapping will change all of this.
“First and foremost we’re attempting to track and monitor drought a lot earlier than we have before. Moving forward from this current phase there’ll be accuracy improvements. We have new tools coming out which allows farmers to do field referencing and provide field reports.”