Queensland drought worsens
Queensland station workers are hoping for rain to douse the barren countryside as the drought continues to wreak havoc across the state. Similar to New Zealand’s recent drought, Queensland station operators have felt the pinch of the conditions affecting cattle prices and halting exports.
The central-western town of Longreach has had no rain in months, with retired station worker Sandy Flower describing the conditions as ‘‘tough’’ for everyone.
‘‘Usually we get our rain around November, December and January. Sometimes we will see rain in March and May. You can’t predict it really . . . But we haven’t seen it for a while,’’ said the former station worker of 60 years.
Flower, who retired from his station duties five years ago, worked on stations his entire life including properties up to 400,000 hectares.
Low summer rainfall on most of the mainland has brought a return of dry conditions and a lack of grass feed worsens the export crunch.
‘‘There are stations all around here and they’re de-stocked completely there. There is no feed.
‘‘Up in the north of Queensland they are talking about having to shoot their cattle.
‘‘They can’t do anything with them and they
There has been no rain for months in the area around Longreach, Queensland. can’t afford to feed them.’’
‘‘If your cattle are in poor condition then the meatworks are not going to buy them. It affects everything in some way or another.’’
At the Longreach cattle yards, average prices for cattle so far this year are down 46 per cent, and much of the downturn has been attributed to the loss of live export sales amid dry conditions that make it hard to keep stock.
As a result of the drought, cattle sales in Queensland’s central-west have been halted for three consecutive weeks. Simstock Rural Agencies’ Richard Simpson, who is also the president of the Longreach Combined Agents, said a lack of grass feed worsened the export crunch for cattle farmers.
‘‘ The widespread dry conditions probably account for about 30 to 40 per cent of the problem, but the buildup (of cattle) in the north from the live export ban has had a much bigger impact,’’ Simpson said.
Most of the cattle in the Northern Territory were destined for the live export market, but since the federal government’s temporary ban on live exports was enforced, the number has halved.
Aden Miles’ visit to Australia was hosted by Tourism and Events Queensland.