Queens­land drought wors­ens

South Waikato News - - FARMING - By ADEN MILES

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.

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