'Can't blame drought completely on climate change': NSW Farmers vice-president

NSW Farmers vice-president Chris Groves at his property near Cowra. Photo: Andrew Fisher
NSW Farmers vice-president Chris Groves at his property near Cowra. Photo: Andrew Fisher

With good rain forecast this weekend the message from one farm leader to NSW farmers and businesses is that we just need to ride out the current extreme dry conditions.

Young received just 95.6mm of rain in the second half of 2019 compared with a six month average of 319.8mm as the state sweltered through its hottest and driest year on record, according to the weather bureau's annual review.

While it was not quite the warmest and driest year on record for the Central West, it was the year the drought really hit the region after being somewhat insulated from it for about a year-and-a-half, unlike the northern parts of the state.

NSW Farmers vice-president Chris Groves admits last year's weather pattern took a toll on farmers across the region, who suffered back-to-back years of the same hot, dry conditions but he remains optimistic.

For the year Young received 438.4mm of rain. The yearly average is 588.9mm.

April (0.8mm) and December (8.8mm) were the driest months of the year.

Despite the "extreme conditions" Mr Groves says farmers should not be demonised over climate change and need to maintain faith that the weather will improve.

One thing that gives Mr Grove faith for the future is that you need to go back to another world in 1902 to find Australia's next biggest rainfall deficit.

"Yes we've had a rainfall deficit like we've never seen before but previously to that the next biggest rainfall deficit was 1902," Mr Groves said.

Yes we've had a rainfall deficit like we've never seen before but previously to that the next biggest rainfall deficit was 1902.

Chris Groves

"Yes there is climate change, we have to be very careful with our climate and our emissions but you cannot blame this drought entirely on climate change because the previous worst deficit of rainfall was 1902.

"The severity of this drought may be affected by climate change but we've had droughts before, and farmers, the younger generations, the kids of today, they'll have droughts into the future."

As for what the farming community can do to prevent future droughts Mr Groves pointed out "we'll see this again no matter what we do with regards to the climate".

"1902 was a long time ago. The temperature and rainfall charts on the Bureau of Meteorology website make for interesting reading," he said encouraging people to peruse them.

"They give you a lot of faith.

"We are being demonised for what we have done to the planet.

"It's not quite that bad, when you look back you'll see we've had extremes before.

"This is an extreme, this is a drought, let's just manage with what we have at the moment.

"The key thing is we have to have a viable agricultural production sector at the end of (drought) otherwise the population is in trouble, the government is in trouble.

"It's the farmers that feed and clothe the country.

"It'll turn around we've just got to ride it out," Mr Groves said.

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