Hawke's Bay Today

Entire cattle herds wiped out after floods break drought

- — news.com.au

Farmers who managed to keep their cattle alive for seven years, through one of Australia’s worst droughts in history, have watched their herds wiped out in a matter of days after unpreceden­ted floods devastated much of Queensland. If the cattle have not drowned or frozen to death in the elements, devastated farmers now face having to kill thousands of animals. The situation is so terrible that there are reports the farmers have run out of bullets. Some farmers are estimating almost 100 per cent stock losses while the state’s cattle industry as a whole is expecting about 500,000 dead cattle. Graziers typically sell cows for A$500 a head with farmers estimating the 500,000 dead cattle could mean losses of up to A$300 million. When the first rain started to fall in the state’s west two weeks ago, drought-stricken farmers felt they could finally breathe a sigh of relief. It’s been more than seven years since the region received a substantia­l downpour but the monsoon — which saw clouds dump three years worth of rain in 10 days — is expected to cripple farmers for decades. The sheer devastatio­n has been labelled a national disaster and it’s left desperate farmers — facing three years without any income — begging the Government for help. “We do not want handouts, but sometimes we do need government financial support when these natural disasters occur. Most of all, we need Australian­s to buy Australian Products,” grazier Jacqueline Curley wrote in a Facebook post shared more than 10,000 times. “As we begin to access our paddocks we are being confronted with death and devastatio­n at every turn. There are kangaroos dead in trees and fences, birds drowned in drifts of silt and debris and our beloved bovine family lay perished in piles where they have been huddling for protection and warmth,” Curley wrote. Speaking at the National Press Club, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an immediate non-gratia A$1 million for shires inundated by floods: “This payment will be for them to use on priorities they deem most urgent — whether that be rate relief for impacted properties, infrastruc­ture, or the disposal of cattle which have perished.”

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