More than 10 weeks ago devastating floods cut a swathe through Tasmania’s farming communities. The Premier of Tasmania has noted that the economic, environmental and infrastructure costs from the June 2016 floods could top $100 million. For Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market producers, like farmers across the State, the ongoing wet is taking its toll with many paddocks still too wet for spring plantings.
The floods in the first week of June have been particularly devastating to our farming communities and many are still struggling to deal with the effects. For those impacted, to see their livelihoods washed away before their eyes is a harrowing experience that they are still coming to grips with. Some farmers are still having to take significant detours to and from their properties due to bridges in need of repair. Local Councils are doing a great job, however with 35 bridges across the North and North-West damaged by the floods, not all can be fixed at once.
Unfortunately, in some areas, record-breaking rains have continued and this has meant that although the flood waters have receded, farmlands are still very, very, wet. Ten weeks on, and many farmers have not been able to get onto the paddocks to start to clean up from the June event.
Dairy farmers are now calving and the very wet muddy ground makes it difficult to manage stock in paddocks and laneways to the dairy. Dairy and livestock producers are making some difficult decisions with their stock. With loss of paddocks, some farmers are transporting stock for sale. For those looking to purchase fodder, accessing feed is tight due to the extreme dry conditions experienced prior to the flood. There is a positive on the horizon with the warmer weather, bringing on some pasture growth. This is promising for spring, and many livestock and dairy farmers are trying to remain positive in anticipation of the season ahead.
For those who plant crops, the second half of winter can be a time of promise, but for those in the North and North-West the rains continue to create a challenge. The ground is still very saturated and for farmers looking to plant crops like poppies, peas, carrots and brassicas, the timing is likely to be delayed. The late plantings may create issues down the track as farmers manage reduced yields or disease pressure. You might think that those in the fruit or wine sector might be having an easier time, but for orchardists or vineyard managers looking to plant new trees or vines in saturated ground, they will need to delay their plantings as well.
So, as you look towards spring and anticipate the many delicious fruit and vegetables that start to appear, be prepared that some of these might be a little late from our local growers. Have a chat with your Harvest Launceston market farmers and find out how they are going. They always love to see your smile and appreciate your interest in what they do.
For those who wish to support farmers who are in hardship, you can make a tax deductable donation to the Rural Relief Fund here: www.ruralbusinesstasmania.org.au/Relief-Fund