Dairy farmers Barry and Rosey Warburton open up about the drought crisis in the new season of Struggle Street.
Dairy farmers Barry and Rosey Warburton open up about the drought crisis in the new season of Struggle Street. Supplied

Doco turns its attention to drought-striken farmers

AFTER two seasons of depicting the hardships faced by Australia's poor and disadvantaged, Struggle Street turns its attention to our drought-striken farmers.

The controversial documentary series, which has been criticised for being 'poverty porn', returns for a third season filmed in the Riverina agricultural region of NSW.

Dairy farmer Barry Warburton and his wife Rosey opened their doors, and hearts, to the show's cameraman, who captures a bleak outlook for the hard-working parents.

"We had no idea really, about the show. The only really we did it was to try to let people know what it's like being a farmer in the southern Murray Darling Basin," Barry says.

Dairy farmers Barry and Rosey Warburton and their children in a scene from Struggle Street.
Dairy farmers Barry and Rosey Warburton and their children in a scene from Struggle Street. Supplied

"We are now into our fifth bad year in a row. There was one small period where we got too wet. It was the wettest May for 58 years and we had a disaster of a month. The annoying thing about that wet period was it killed off our lucerne, which is best drought growing fodder, and that made it even worse, Then it stopped raining again, and it's been like that for three years."

As the show goes to air, the family's future in Deniliquin hangs on hay prices. With hot, dry conditions forecast for this summer, and another year of "astronomical" water prices, they will be forced to sell up and move on if they can't afford to feed their cows.

"The debt levels we've carried forward from past seasons means we can't make the wrong decision," Barry says.

"We can't keep doing what we've been doing the past few years. We're getting closer and closer (to selling).

"In previous droughts we'd had reasonable milk prices either just before or during, and you had to just keep your head down and get through it. But this one, it's just from all sides."

Season three of Struggle Street premieres tonight at 8.30pm on SBS-TV.