Weather will turn if we can "ride out" extreme conditions

NSW Farmers Association vice president Chris Grove and his son Oliver inspecting one of the last dams's on their Cowra property holding water.
NSW Farmers Association vice president Chris Grove and his son Oliver inspecting one of the last dams's on their Cowra property holding water.

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

Cowra received just 67.6mm of rain in the second half of 2019 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.

November was the only month when above average rainfall of 63 millimetres was recorded, much of which fell over just a few days at the start of the month.

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.

In Cowra just 382.7mm fell in 2019 compared to the yearly 623mm average.

Conditions deteriorated markedly in the second half of 2019 with just 67.6mm of rain recorded.

Cowra's long term average for July to December is 262.4mm.

Rain fell on 96 days throughout the year but on just 41 days were falls of more than 1mm recorded.

Only in January and June 2019 did Cowra receive anywhere near average monthly falls with 59.4mm and 40mm recorded compared with the averages of 59.6mm and 40.5mm.

April (3.2mm) and December (5mm) 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 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.