Drought over

Dec­la­ra­tion ends but farm­ers are still fac­ing a tough fu­ture

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Kate Dar­vall kate.dar­vall@ south­bur­nett­times.com.au

THE North Bur­nett is no longer drought-de­clared but farm­ers say they are not out of the woods just yet.

Cat­tle farmer Kevin Slack said con­di­tions were the best he’d seen in years.

“The grass is green and the dams are as good as full,” he said.

How­ever, farm­ers across the Bur­nett said it would take years to re­cover from what they lost while drought-stricken.

WHILE more than 80% of Queens­land re­mains drought stricken, the North Bur­nett is no longer on the list.

Gayn­dah cat­tle farmer Kevin Slack said things took a turn for the bet­ter at the start of this year.

“Up un­til Christ­mas time the grass was very short and ev­ery­thing was dry but now ev­ery­thing’s fairly good,” Mr Slack said.

“The grass is green and the dams are as good as full.”

Mr Slack agreed the North Bur­nett should be taken off the drought list be­cause it was now a “long way from drought stricken”.

“When com­par­ing our­selves to places like Lon­greach, we can’t ex­pect to stay on it,” he said.

“I be­lieve we should have come off the drought list months ago. I don’t know why we stayed on for as long as we did.”

South-east re­gional AgForce pres­i­dent and Monto farmer Neville Gal­loway said this sea­son was “one of the best sea­sons we’ve had in years” and agreed the North Bur­nett no longer needed to be drought-de­clared.

“But we cer­tainly needed to be drought de­clared when we were,” he said.

Although the North Bur­nett was in a more sta­ble po­si­tion, Mr Gal­loway said farm­ers would need to play a game of catch-up.

“It’ll take ev­ery­one a cou­ple of years to re­cover in­come they lost sell­ing cat­tle when prices were low,” he said.

“It’ll prob­a­bly take about three or four years to catch up with the bank bal­ance.”

Although no longer in drought, Mr Gal­loway said farm­ers were not out of the woods yet.

“When you’re drought de­clared you get freight as­sis­tance for wa­ter and fod­der,” he said.

“That drought re­lief is now cut off.”

Mr Slack said this as­sis­tance should no longer be re­quired but if any­body was still in a “dry spot” they could get drought de­clared them­selves.

North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil Mayor DonWaugh said re­gard­less of drought, farm­ers needed sup­port.

“It would be bet­ter if there was a way gov­ern­ments could work with farm­ers other than this ‘in drought, out of drought’ style of as­sis­tance,” Cr Waugh said.

“To keep farm­ing vi­able no mat­ter what the weather is do­ing.”


BET­TER TIMES AHEAD: Gayn­dah cat­tle farmer Kevin Slack says he's not drought-stricken as he looks up at rain clouds rum­bling in.

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