GROWERS in the Ravensthorpe region were able to discuss their concerns regarding the water shortage issue with Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud when he visited Ravensthorpe last Friday.
Mr Littleproud heard from farmers, grower groups and land managers about the impact of severe rainfall deficiencies in the region.
The town of Ravensthorpe itself ran out of water in September, with water being carted from Hopetoun to keep up supply since then.
Community dams are also getting low, which farmers are relying on to water stock and there are also concerns that there won't be enough water to go around to fulfil spraying programs once preparations for this year's cropping season kick off.
Local farmer Andy Chambers said the lack of water was really starting to hit the community hard.
"We have water in storage in tanks but that will be used up pretty quickly and the house water for homesteads is starting to get pretty smelly as we get to the bottom of tanks and dams," Mr Chambers said.
"There has been enough rain around to generate a germination of weeds and while there is not a lot of spraying happening at the moment, 10 days from now most people are going to want to get across a fair part of their programs.
"In our own farming operation, once we start spraying, we are looking at having to put on another worker because we are going to have someone carting water all day or even just moving water around the farm from fuller dams to empty dams takes a lot of time.
"It is hard to know what the repercussions are going to be if the dry continues, but we could also get a thunderstorm and it would solve all our problems."
Ricky Carpenter chairs the local grower group Ravensthorpe Agricultural Initiative Network and said another big concern was livestock numbers in the region.
"Many farmers are having to destock now and are really being pushed into it because they don't have the water for them, but also there is a real concern about the damage sheep could do to bare paddocks," Mr Carpenter said.
"The stubbles from last year are just about gone now and while we can always buy in food, the lack of water and that concern of paddock erosion doesn't leave you with much choice when you are running sheep."
Mr Carpenter also agreed with Mr Chambers in regards to the spraying situation.
"The quality of spray water that we are going to have access to and the quantity we are going to be able to use are concerns," he said.
"For years we have been spraying with 70-80 litres of water a hectare but that will probably have to change this year.
"We will look at starting our own program in the next 7-10 days, then we will probably do another knock and then a pre-emergent spray.
"So in these big cropping programs you could be going over the ground three times with a spray before we put a seed in the ground and it is a real concern because we might not have enough water to do that and that is going to put pressure on the entire business if we can't get a good weed knockdown."
Mr Carpenter believed there needed to be a mentality change in regards to the water harvesting infrastructure in the impacted towns.
"It is a real question of maintenance of that infrastructure and who that gets passed onto," he said.
"At the moment the infrastructure has dropped off and it wouldn't hurt for the State government to come and see that."
The Nationals WA's Peter Rundle, who is the member for Roe, said the region had struggled through almost two years of dry conditions.
"The past 23 months have seen parts of the south east and Great Southern experience the lowest rainfall levels ever seen," Mr Rundle said.
"Recent conditions aren't showing any improvement, with the driest February in WA in over a decade."
Mr Rundle said farm dams were dry or near dry on many properties, forcing farmers to destock or drive significant distances to access water for livestock.
"Having the Federal Minister visit and see the conditions first-hand, tour a local property and speak with grower groups is an important opportunity for the Ravensthorpe community," Mr Rundle said.
"It's significant for people to know their concerns are being heard at the highest level."