WIMMERA and Mallee farmers are calling for drought assistance in the wake of a one-in-20-year drought.
The Victorian Farmers Federation has warned that whatever party gains government on November 29 must immediately get the ball rolling on delivering drought support to farmers in the state’s west and north-west.
Federation president Peter Tuohey said there were many farmers in the region with failed crops and others who had run out of stock water.
‘‘It’s a season where farmers have invested heavily on the back of a good autumn break, only to see the tap turned off and crops fail across the Wimmera and southern Mallee,’’ he said.
Federation vice-president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said it was hard to gauge how much financial assistance Wimmera farmers would need.
‘‘Harvest is underway and after harvest we will get a better idea of where people are at,’’ he said.
Mr Jochinke said he expected farmers would need assistance for next year’s sowing.
The State Government had been negotiating with the federal government to gain access to Drought Concessional Loans for Victorian farmers.
The federation lobbied both the federal and state governments to reach an in-principle agreement on the drought loans, prior to the State Government going into caretaker mode earlier this month.
The agreement means negotiations can continue between the federal Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment and Primary Industries during the election campaign.
Mr Jochinke said concessional loans would be administered through Rural Finance.
He expected applications would open not long after the election.
Federation Wedderburn branch president Graham Nesbit said farmers were already carting water.
‘‘It costs about $300 to $350 for a load of 18,000 litres, and we’ve got farmers carting anywhere from one or two loads, up to half a dozen each week,’’ he said.
‘‘By the time we get to Christmas, there’s going to be a lot more farmers carting water and more of it.’’
Mr Jochinke said Wimmera farmers would have issues with feed.
‘‘Water supplies won’t be a big issue in most of the region because of the pipeline, but other areas around Ararat and Stawell might have problems,’’ he said.
‘‘I have not heard of anyone running out of water yet, but I was talking to farmers at Casterton and they believe their feed will run out before their water supply.
‘‘We didn’t really have a spring this year, so feed supplies are already getting low.’’
Bureau of Meteorology climate maps show farmers in the state’s north-west have suffered a one-in-20-year rainfall deficiency over the past two years.
In the bureau’s latest drought statement, a spokesman said October was the seventh driest on record nationally.
‘‘It was especially dry across South Australia and low totals affected adjacent parts of Victoria,’’ he said.
‘‘At the longer 25-month time scale, rainfall deficiencies have again increased in severity in inland western Victoria.’’
The spokesman said soil moisture was also below average in western Victoria.