IT was pleasing to see our prime minister and a number of federal ministers visiting our region this week. They were here to listen to farmers and discuss potential solutions to the drought, which now covers close to 60 per cent of the state.
Our western NSW farming community is varied and we produce key commodities such as meat, food and fibre crops, milk, vegetables, fruit, legumes and nuts. So it’s important to support our farmers and have these discussions with farming businesses.
As the regional manager for the Western NSW Business Chamber, we are also keen to highlight how drought affects our non-farm businesses and, in turn, the community.
Our small businesses are already struggling with increasing cost pressures, especially fuel, gas and electricity prices, and the added impact of the drought will continue to affect business growth and employment.
Many businesses that directly supply the farming community feel the effects of the drought long before an area is drought-declared, or even under watch, as farmers and others tighten their belts. As drought conditions deteriorate, local spend will continue to decrease in communities.
As the drought worsens, these businesses may need to make decisions regarding their ongoing viability, leading to business closures and job losses. Once a business closes, particularly in smaller towns, those services generally do not return.
We need to come together as a community to support all our farming and non-farm businesses and look for solutions that help our regional communities remain strong and viable during this time.