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Audio Trevor Smith discusses dealing with droughts, 2008

TLF ID R8857

This is an edited sound recording of Trevor Smith, a wheat and sheep farmer in the Forbes area of central New South Wales. He explains what it is like being a farmer who has to deal with a prolonged period of drought. Smith tells of the financial strains on farming businesses and the psychological strains on individual farmers. The recording was made in January 2008 and lasts for 57 seconds.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording gives an insight into the financial and psychological strains farmers face as a result of drought. Smith tells how, despite cash-flow problems, most sheep farmers try to keep their breeding stock alive by buying feed so they can rebuild their flocks when a drought breaks. Smith also refers to drought's 'big psychological effect' on farmers, who each day have to look at livestock that are costing money to keep alive but are still hungry.
  • Drought, which may be defined as a prolonged period in which the level of rainfall is not sufficient to meet demand, not only causes crop failures and stock losses but can ruin the businesses of farmers and cause the prices of farm goods to soar. Droughts can also have severe effects on the national economy when they cause losses in export income.
  • At the time of this recording in January 2008 the Forbes area was being affected by one of the most severe droughts on record in many parts of south-eastern Australia, leading to unprecedented water restrictions. The Forbes area had received below-average rainfall for more than six consecutive years. Smith had recently experienced the first total failure of his wheat crop since 1948, representing the loss of a $500,000 investment.
  • In October 2006 the Forbes district was visited by then prime minister John Howard (1939-), who used the occasion to announce an extra $350 million in federal government assistance for farmers in drought-affected areas. Smith hosted Howard that day on his property, showing him a dusty paddock that would have been full of wheat if there had been enough rain. He also reminded the prime minister how the drought was affecting farm-related industries.
  • Because of Australia's geography and climate, droughts are not uncommon. Rainfall over most of the country is low and highly erratic. Particular droughts do not affect the entire country, but they can affect large regions and can last for a decade or more. In eastern and northern Australia in particular many droughts can be attributed to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon, related to the surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Trevor Smith
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
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  • Audio
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.