Grant Denyer points out the financial strains the drought is having on struggling farmers.
Grant Denyer points out the financial strains the drought is having on struggling farmers.

Denyer shares heartbreaking photo

GOLD Logie winner Grant Denyer has labelled the New South Wales drought as "situation critical", pleading with people to think of the affects its having on struggling farmers.

The former game show host who owns a 27-acre farm in Bathurst, posted a photo to his Facebook page showing the extremely dry conditions which he says in some places was the worst drought on record.

"This is how dry it is at our place," Denyer said in his post.

"My wife just took this photo of our backyard and paddocks. So dry, the kangaroos are drinking out of our dog bowl.

"We're lucky we don't rely on the farm for income but so many in regional Australia do. It's so sad right now. In many places it's the worst drought since records began."

He said there was not only a financial toll but also a mental and emotional one.

"Some families are at breaking point, unable to afford food & with no choice but to shoot their stock so they don't starve & suffer a slow death."

Denyer raised the issue of mental health problems which he said had increased by 70 per cent in his region.

"Suicide by farmers is the most tragic consequence of such a drastic situation. Farmers harvest our food and the materials for the clothes on our back … please think of them."

"We need them. They need us. That's why we support @ruralaid and @buyabale".

The Bureau of Meteorology said the first three months of 2018 were the driest for more than 30 years averaged across NSW, with about 60 per cent of the state now on drought watch.

May was an exceptionally dry month across the country.

Farmers are having to fork out up to $10,000 a week to maintain livestock, according to the ABC.

To help alleviate financial pressures, National Australia Bank chief executive Andrew Thorburn announced the bank will stop charging farmers penalty interest if they fall behind on their repayments due to drought, admitting it had lost touch with some of its customers.

In a meeting in Wagga Wagga, the CEO of the country's largest agricultural lender, also said it would introduce new policies to allow farmers to use much-needed offset accounts against agribusiness loans.

Farm management deposits (FMD) allow farmers to remove money from their taxable income during good years to later use during tough times.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has urged others to follow suit, encouraging farmers to "vote with their wallets" and tell banks who refuse to "bugger off".

One in three farmers bank with NAB, meaning the other big banks will face increased pressure to join them in making the change.

 

Denyer’s property in greener times. Picture: Channel 10
Denyer’s property in greener times. Picture: Channel 10

 

In his Facebook post he pointed out the financial strains the drought is having on struggling farmers. Picture: Channel 10
In his Facebook post he pointed out the financial strains the drought is having on struggling farmers. Picture: Channel 10

"This is an investment in agriculture's future and farmers can now vote with their wallets. I hope other Aussie banks follow NAB's lead and get on board," Mr Littleproud said in a statement today.

He also had a dig at foreign-owned Rabo bank for "turning up its nose" at Aussie farmers, ruling out an FMD offset product last week.

"You have to ask how serious that bank is about agriculture in Australia," Mr Litteproud said

"If you're a farmer whose bank doesn't offer an FMD offset, you can tell them to bugger off because there are banks now which do."

NAB removing penalty interest for farmers was an opportunity for the banking sector to reassess penalty interest as a whole, Mr Litteproud added.

"I don't think the charge truly reflects the cost to the bank," he said. "It's really a kick in the guts when someone's down, which isn't the Australian way."

 

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. For help with depression, please see Beyond Blue for a list of organisations that can assist.


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