The cost of the New South Wales floods could exceed $1 billion after record November rain in the state.

Key points:

  • Many crops are still submerged and more rain is forecast
  • The downgrading of grain quality will see payments to many farmers plummet
  • The DPI says the scale may be greater than the flooding in 2016

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is assessing the damage, but downgrades in the quality of crops and damage to fences and equipment are likely to be significant.

DPI emergency coordinator Simon Oliver said the scale could be greater than the flooding in 2016 and that the damage to crops would hurt farmers the most.

This year’s yield was set to be bigger than 2016’s.

“It’s going to take a while to get a true figure, but the damage in that event was over a billion dollars,” Mr Oliver said.

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Growers are struggling to get into the paddock to assess the damage and some may not be able to harvest at all.

“If it continues to rain, as has been forecast in some places, it’s going to be impossible to get a harvester in,” Mr Oliver said.

Dairy farmers have got problems with fodder crops and pastures.

“We are already seeing some problems with yield,” Mr Oliver said.

“A lot of lucerne and fodder crops have been under water for days.”

But the news was not all bad — Mr Oliver said farmers had moved livestock early and the department had not received many calls for assistance.

“We have had to do some mustering jobs by air to push stock out of the water,” he said.

Farmers can get assistance by calling 1300 795 299.

A farmer in a hat and work shirt stands in a paddock beneath a grey sky.

Chris Mammen says wheat that might have been worth $1,000 per tonne is now only worth a few hundred per tonne.(ABC Rural: Lara Webster)

Crops under water

Gunnedah grain grower Chris Mammen’s wheat paddocks have been flooded a number of times.

He is expecting to lose hundreds of dollars a tonne when he finally harvests the crop, which has been standing in water for a week or more.

“If we can get it off it will all be downgraded and probably drop in yield too,” Mr Mammen said.

A bald man in a polo shirt leaning on a ute.

Robert Weinthal says the damage will be widespread, but some crops like sorghum and corn are coping better.(ABC Rural: Lara Webster)

Boggabri farmer and agronomist Robert Weinthal says much of the local wheat crop will be downgraded significantly.

“There’s some pretty ugly sights, to be honest, in terms of where the crops were at and what they’re looking like now,” he said.

“It’s hard to say how much damage really has been done.

But Mr Weinthal is optimistic that some summer plantings will pull through.

“There’s a lot of summer crop you could see from the air, some advanced sorghum and corn, that’s really enjoying life,” he said.

NSW flood damage bill tipped to exceed $1b as farmers watch crops go under
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