Young farmer’s reminder: the drought is still hurting
AS supermarket shelves are stripped bare across the country, farmers are working hard to ensure Australians still get fresh food on their plate amid the panic, but a young Lockyer Valley farmer is speaking up to remind the public of one hard truth: the drought is far from broken and our farmers are still hurting.
"The drought is hurting pockets, it's hurting the farming future, it's hurting people in general because at the moment we're running out of water," Matt Kammholz said.
"It's not just the drought, it's the distance of time we've had to travel through it. How much longer do you have to keep going on heartache because there is just no foreseeable future at the moment because there's just no give."
Matt Kammholz owns a hay farming operation at Winwill in the Lockyer Valley, but the gruelling dry weather over the last few years forced him to take on a second job as a farmhand at a nearby vegetable farm to make ends meet, and he says he's not alone.
"There's a lot of cattle producers, a lot of hay producers and small business owners that have had to get second jobs because there's just not enough income working on the farms because there's not enough water or they've had to sell their cattle and are just trying to keep afloat," he said.
"It's nearly impossible to keep your head above water to keep going."
Mr Kammholz said rain last month lifted spirits but wasn't enough to provide relief for the region's struggling farmers.
"It did bring a bit of happiness to the doom ahead, but it really didn't pick up our water supply at all because the bore holes haven't refreshed and we're still going in a green drought," he said.
"All it's done is given people a bit of hope and a bit of prospect heading into winter but there are some really tough times ahead coming."
Without more rain on the forecast and with added pressures on the industry from the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Kammholz fears they will be in for another tough winter.
"I think we're in for a long, dry, hard winter and it's going to take some real confidence to get through it all because it's going to be tough times ahead," he said.
"With the way everyone has struggled to get through so far with the way the drought has been, I think there'll be a lot of sore pockets and a lot of heartache to get through it."
Mr Kammholz said the drought was hurting agriculture across the board, and it will take plenty of rain and time to heal.
"It's going to take a substantial amount of time for everyone to come out of this and I'm not talking 12 months, two years, I'm talking substantial amounts of time," he said.
"It takes years to build cattle numbers up, you're not going to be able to produce cattle and have it all back together tomorrow."
As the coronavirus threat increases the full implications on the agricultural industry are not yet known,.
However Mr Kammholz said it also offered an opportunity to remind Australians of what is really important.
"Without farmers and truck drivers Australia stops," he said.
"Movie stars are all important up until last week and now all of a sudden truck drivers are the most important people in the world, a bit of realisation for some people."
As supermarket shelves are being stripped each day, Mr Kammholz said it's the farmers who are ensuring the nation can still put quality fresh food on the table each night.
"Milk doesn't come off the shelves, neither does eggs, neither does meat, neither does vegies and people are going to start realising that very quickly."