Parts of the Clarence Valley in drought.
Parts of the Clarence Valley in drought. Department of Primary Industires

VALLEY IN DROUGHT: Farms fight frost, high cost

"RELATIVE to the rest of the state, we are doing ok."

As NSW is declared 100 per cent in drought, member for Page Kevin Hogan says the Clarence Valley, compared with the rest of the state, is not in dire straights, but it's still not looking good. "We've had a lot of severe frost in our region and spring is usually our dry season, so there will be pressure on our agricultural grazing," he said.

"There is no getting around this... in some parts they are talking this is the worst drought they've seen in 40 or 50 years, it's a dire situation."

Mr Hogan said while the NSW Government look after the stock, transport of water and feed, the Federal Government looked after the families.

"Farming families will now receive up to a total of $28,000 a year in assistance following a boost of up to $12,000 per annum to FHA for eligible households," he said of recent Farm Household Allowance changes.

"We are talking about this as a government almost daily... this is a fluid situation, if it does not rain, there will be more and more assistance given."

Dairy Australia managing director Dr David Nation has said the high demand for feed is causing price increases and shortages on the east coast, including Page.

Out of a horrible situation, Mr Hogan said, the community spirit rallying behind the farmers in drought-affected areas was a wonderful thing.

"Like JoJo Newby in the Clarence, (people) are doing things off their own back," he said.

"I've spoken to personal friends who live out west, they get assistance from the government, but the thing that touches their heart is the community stuff, it shows that people care.

"The emotional support for them, it's really helpful."

According to the Department of Primary Industries, June and July have been much drier than expected, resulting in failing crops, water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain stock.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said this latest update confirmed what many farmers across the state had seen, with only 0-10mm of rain recorded over the past month in the Western, North-West and Central areas of NSW.

"This is tough, there isn't a person in the state that isn't hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities," Mr Blair said.

"Producers are now faced with some very difficult decisions on whether to graze sown crops or rely on potential rainfall in the next two months in order to increase yield production.

"Some areas of the state did receive some welcome rainfall this month that has provided a little relief for stock and domestic water; unfortunately, though, it will not even come close to the recovery needed for most farmers.

"The forecast suggests an increase of drier than normal conditions for the next three months across the majority of NSW but I want every farmer and community to know that we will stand with them through this challenging time and continue to make sure we have the right support available."

For a map of all drought affected areas in NSW, head to: edis.dpi.nsw.gov.au

WATER NOT AN ISSUE IN THE VALLEY

Despite NSW being declared in drought, there are no current problems with our town water supply according to Clarence Valley Council.

Water cycle manager Greg Mashiah said the Clarence water supply came from two sources - the Nymboida River and the Shannon Creek Dam.

"We have a licence to extract water from the Nymboida River while the flow is more than 225 megalitres a day," he said.

"There are some exceptions, but we generally only take water from the Shannon Creek Dam when the flows in the Nymboida drop below that 225 megalitre daily flow.

"At the moment it's flowing at about 250 megalitres a day so we are still extracting from there.

"If there's no rain in the next 10 days or so - and the forecast suggests there won't be - we'd expect the flow to fall below the 225 megalitre trigger and we would start drawing supply from the Shannon Creek Dam."

The dam is currently above 99% capacity.

"Under normal consumption rates we'd probably have about 150 days of supply before we needed to consider restrictions," he said."

However, Mr Mashiah did encourage people to use water wisely.