Farmers struggling to survive NSW's devastating drought say this week's rain is "psychologically positive" but much greater falls are needed in the coming months.
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NSW Farmers’ Association chief executive Peter Arkle says the rain is a welcome change and it will allow some farmers to plant “opportunity crops or pastures”.

“Hopefully with some follow-up rain, it’ll allow people to build their feed reserves prior to winter, which will be important and hopefully reduce the need for the hand-feeding we’re seeing in lots of parts of NSW,” Mr Arkle told AAP on Thursday.

“The soil profile is so dry that the soil could absorb a lot of this rain which means we may not get a lot of flow into creeks.

“But filling up that soil profile is really important for being able to grow some of those opportunity crops, and for guys cropping, helping them to build their soil water before planting.”

Mr Arkle said farmers needed between 200 and 300 millimetres of rain between now and late April to fill dams and prepare for winter crops which have been disappointing in recent years.

Rain has been falling across much of NSW on Thursday with Moree in the state’s northwest receiving over 50mm.

Showers and localised thunderstorms are expected to continue until Monday.

But Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jonathan How says this week’s rain will likely be short-lived.

“Unfortunately the outlook for the next few weeks and into February will be much drier and warmer than usual,” Mr How said in a video statement on Thursday.

“It is important to remember that 2019 was a very dry year for many regions and these regions are still carrying over these rainfall deficiencies so we will need a lot more rain in order to make up for this.”

Table grape farmer Graeme McCrabb says the 15 millimetres recorded on Thursday in Menindee – in NSW’s far west – was “psychologically positive” rather than genuinely helpful to local producers.

“It doesn’t really help with feed but it’s nice to know it can still rain,” Mr McCrabb told AAP.

With hot temperatures and dust storms causing havoc in the far west the Menindee local said the rain evaporated quickly with much more desperately needed in autumn.

“It’s not enough but to get 15mm takes some of the pressure off,” he said.

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay on Thursday questioned whether the government’s fresh milk and dairy advocate, Ian Zandstra, had been doing enough since he was appointed in September.

“It’s so important that we have a dedicated voice in government standing up for dairy farmers and working to get them through these fires and this drought,” Ms McKay said in a statement.

Up to 65,000 dairy cows a year could be culled under plans by the Department of Agriculture as they look to ‘close the gap’ on emissions.

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