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Friday, February 21, 2014

Living through the drought 2014

Farmers are a special breed of people at the complete mercy of the weather. Floods ruin their crops and drown their livestock and they watch in horror as their animals die a slow death in drought. Yet they persevere.

Although drought has always been a common occurrence in Australia, past governments, and indeed this one, have not had the foresight to fix the problem once and for all. A huge amount of water pours out of the sky in the wet season up north every year, yet no one is suggesting we catch it and keep it for future droughts.  

When the rain finally comes and thousands of cattle and sheep have been shot and a few depressed farmers have ended their life, there will inevitably be another drought just around the corner, and things will go on exactly the same.

Tony Abbott is now under pressure to give assistance to those who desperately need it and Charlotte Gerhardt's account of what's going on in her world, is a good reason to do it. She's from Talwood in Queensland and her letter is part of the ABC's Voices From The Drought.

Hearts are breaking on our property. Our cattle, beloved as they are, are literally staring down the barrel of a gun as we wait and pray for rain. If it has not rained and filled our dams by the end of the week or sooner, my dad will begin to cull the weakest, and most drought affected stock.
 I sent video footage of our land to Channel 7 and was told the footage of our dying was too traumatic to show on TV. Too traumatic for TV. When war and death and blood and gore is shown freely on TV, our cattle are too emotionally distressing to be seen. That is what it is like on our property right now.
The entire cattle market has collapsed and cattle are worth little to nothing. It costs money to sell them, so who will sell something when you are likely to receive a Bill from the yards as a result. We have tried that. It didn't work, now we will shoot cattle instead.
 The drought is not just natural, this drought is financial and blame must be laid on government and animal rights activists. If something isn't done soon, our industry will fully collapse and all good production will go offshore.
There is no emotional support available for us. My brother is 19; his job is to destroy the cattle in distress. While other 19-year-olds are spending their money on fun and travelling, he is busting his guts on a farm.
My sister is 21, she works her butt off to mix the grain feed and try to get it out to the cattle. Other girls her age are in front of a mirror fixing their hair, going to the beach, having fun enjoying life. Not her.
 I am 24, my job is to cart the dwindling supply of water around our farm. I am watching our cattle die slowly. My parents are even worse off. Nobody is supporting us. We rely on friends in the city, the phone calls to check we are ok. The government is failing us.