Declaration ends but farmers are still facing a tough future
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.