Farmers say no to more rain
SOUTH Gippsland farmers are readying for another winter of flooding rains and cold temperatures.
Since April, the Leongatha region has recorded around 325mm of rainfall, while surrounding towns such as Fish Creek have had much more.
Neville Buckland of Fish Creek recorded 241mm of rain during May alone, which is far wetter than he would like for this time of year, with his usual average only 107mm.
“It is the heaviest monthly rainfall I have recorded since 1968, when we had 256mm,” Mr Buckland said
“It looks like it is going to be another wet winter. June is already shaping up to be a wet month, and we are only a few weeks in.”
George Occhipinti of Leongatha South said this year is going to be hard for a lot of farmers.
“I have a very flat farm where we have a lot of issues with water and in turn, mastitis,” Mr Occhipinti said.
“I am struggling this season. On the Mother’s Day weekend I had four inches of rain and was ready to walk away.
“I am not looking forward to the prospect of another wet year. Even though technically this is the second wet year in a row, for me it is the third. The nature of my farm means even in a ‘dry’ winter, we are still wet.
“There is not a lot I can do to combat the wet conditions. I have done some draining, but not nearly enough. I guess we were not really expecting another wet winter.
“What also hasn’t helped, is it was not really a dry summer so when the autumn and winter rain started, we were already wet.”
Neil Cope, a dairy farmer at Middle Tarwin, is faring slightly better than his Leongatha South counterpart.
“It’s not too bad at the moment. We are getting some backed up water from full dams,” he said.
“We have had 17 inches since Anzac Day and don’t really want it to continue.
“Obviously having wet paddocks reduces the availability of feed, which can result in loss of production.
“The cattle are getting fed more grain when they are in the shed and are living on the drier parts of the farm where the grass is still good. We do have some higher ground, so we are still able to keep the cattle off the wet flats.
“Wet conditions increase the amount of mud around, so we can also have problems with lame cattle and increased incidences of mastitis.”
Lindsay Fromhold, who has property in the Toora area, said farmers are finding the wet conditions tough.
By June, 2011 more rain had been recorded, “but we seem to be rapidly catching up,” Mr Fromhold said.
“I was hoping for the opposite. I have experienced about two mild, semi-dry winters in South Gippsland.
“Growing conditions for farmers have been on the decline since about the middle of April, when the rain events started.
“It has become cold and wet early, which makes it very hard for the pasture to grow.”
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, South Gippsland is equally as likely to have a wet winter, as it is to have a drier winter, which is of little comfort to farmers.
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