Erica and Stu Halliday from Walcha, NSW were among those hit hardest by the drought. This typically temperate area on the edge of the Northern Tablelands receives an average of 850mm rainfall a year, but in 2018 it got half that amount. In 2019 it got a quarter.
Erica and Stu run Ben Nevis Angus, a Walcha stud which has been in Erica’s family for five generations. They breed bulls which are sold Australia-wide and were in the process of a major expansion when the drought hit.
“We’d just pushed the system so much,” Erica said. “We’d bought another property, pushed ourselves up to 1,000 cows, and then came the drought.”
“We would have had to sell a lot more stock to pay for what we were doing. The loan is going to allow us to keep growing and making the most of the opportunities in front of us.”
Stu said their bank manager encouraged them to apply for the RIC loan.
“He was right on top of our cash flow at that stage, and we could see the holes coming,” he said.
“It allows us to have breathing space,” Stu said.
“We’re going to change our tact with our pastures. This drought’s given us another focus on trying to be a bit kinder to the soil. We lost a lot of topsoil during the drought, or as it rained following the drought, because we had a lot of bare country and that’s a big no-no,” he said.
“The future of our business looks great, because it’s a family business and we want to keep including extra family and growing the business,” Erica said.
“We’re excited about regenerative agriculture. We’re excited about where the beef industry’s going. We want to be part of it.”