The number of farmers registering for drought assistance has hit the highest level in the past five months, with NSW having the most registrations, according to Australia’s leading rural charity Rural Aid.
The spike in registrations saw a total of 638 new farmers register for assistance in February, including 357 in NSW, with the majority needing fodder to feed their livestock.
NSW also had 305 new registrations in January and 4845 in the past six months.
While Victoria’s numbers were not as high, registrations increased by 111 this year so far (70 in February, 41 in January) taking the total for the past six months to 236.
Rural Aid chief executive officer Charles Alder said the number of new registrations in February 2019 was a clear indication that the drought continued to take its toll.
‘‘The number of new farmers needing fodder is a signal to all involved in supporting the agricultural sector that we cannot afford to be complacent,’’ Mr Alder said.
‘‘I, like many other Australians, are particularly concerned that if we don’t get the autumn break we need this month that there will even more pressure in an already precarious situation.
‘‘From our perspective, our ability to source hay for farmers will reduce markedly if the rains don’t eventuate.’’
In the past six months, Rural Aid has distributed 48000 bales of hay to more than 2500 farmers and has disbursed more than $20million for fodder, mental health counselling and financial assistance.