With long-running severe drought conditions showing no signs of abating a range of new measures are being pursued to ease pressure on affected producers trying to keep herds alive.
In Queensland a shipment of molasses from Vietnam arrived in the Port of Brisbane last week.
The shipment, which AgForce coordinated with importers, will be distributed throughout Queensland.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said more container shipments will continue over the next two weeks, totalling more than 2500 tonnes.
“This option is more expensive but it is providing an interim solution for farmers in desperate need,” Mr Guerin said.
“A longer-term bulk option is also being pursued, but this is more complex as there are extensive import permit processes and important biosecurity protocols that must be met.”
Queensland cattle producers needing molasses can register their interest here
Call for Mulga harvesting reprieve
Also in Queensland the Katter Australian party is calling on State Government MPs to support amendments to legislation to allow drought-stricken landholders to harvest mulga to feed starving stock.
KAP State Leader Robbie Katter will introduce amendments to the State’s Vegetation Management (Clearing for Relevant Purposes) Amendment Bill 2018 this week, which, if passed, would allow graziers in the state’s south to harvest some of the 60 million acres of Mulga trees on their properties and turn the resource into fodder during times of drought.
Mr Katter said fodder harvesting or knocking trees over that immediately regenerate is vastly different to blatant tree-clearing.
“Currently, absurd vegetation management laws restrict what landowners can do with their own properties and the actual result of this is cattle go hungry and perish, and graziers lose precious stock.
“While we are in drought, the KAP believes farmers should be able to access all Mulga on their property to keep their cattle alive.”
Open National Parks
Simultaneous pleas have also been made to open National Parks to livestock producers who have no money to feed remaining stock, and which lack condition preventing their sale.
“This will also reduce the current fire risk and potential loss of native wildlife,” John Gunthorpe of the Australian Cattle Producers Council said.
“If water is a problem it can be trucked to the parks for livestock. Desperate times demand a desperate response.
“Long term funding is not what is needed. What producers need is feed and water for their stock.”
Speed up RIC drought loan process
Drought-stricken Queensland cattle producer and truck driver Tom Campbell has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison urgently asking for the time frame it takes for drought loans through the Regional Investment Corporation to be delivered to producers to be accelerated.
Mr Cambpell said his small transporting business means he also sees other cattle producers in his district and said many are in dire conditions.
“Under the terms of the offered financial support, there is no way we would be able to access funds from Regional Investment Corporation to keep our breeders alive. They are near death now, “ he wrote.
“Mr Morrison are you aware that it would take up to three months at the earliest to get an approval even if you get the criteria right.
“RIC requires a second mortgage and, as most cattle producers have been in drought for seven years, we have run up debt plus some have a drought loan from QRIDA. How can they access funds to save their breeders from dying as we need the feed today, not in 3-4 months?”
Mr Campbell said he had no debt in 2012 but was forced into debt under the Queensland Government’s BJD eradication traceback scheme conducted in the same year. He said he has spent the past two years on the stock route trying to keep breeders intact but have now returned home where his family is trying to keep them alive hand feeding.
“Mr Morrison, I do not know if you will read this letter but hope to be able to give you some grass roots perspective on your policy as you seem to really want to help.”
In response to questions about Mr Campbell’s concerns, an RIC spokesperson told Beef Central the corporation could not comment on individual cases, but wanted to provide information on how the RIC was improving its processes.
“Since inception to the 31st of October, the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) has approved 329 loans to the value of $333 million. This is made up of 278 Drought loans, 41 Farm Investment loans and 10 AgRebuild North Qld flood loans.
“We’ve had strong demand for our loans and the number of applications is increasing every month.
“We are here to help farmers and we want to assure them we are continually working on how to improve our processes, with all stakeholders involved in the process.
“We are continuing to increase the size of our team, have reduced the size of the application form and are streamlining our processes.
“These are loans of taxpayers money for up to $2 million, not grants. The RIC needs to ensure a thorough assessment process, and this does take time.”
Desalinated water released to grow fodder
Further south the South Australian and Federal Governments have announced a deal that will see a desalination plant in Adelaide increase to full production, which free up 100 gigalitres of water from the Murray River to be allocated to upstream farmers upstream to grow fodder for livestock.
The federal government has said it expects the water to be used to grow an extra 120,000 tonnes of fodder for livestock, with the water to be sold to farmers at a discount rate of A$100 a megalitre.
It surely must be pretty obvious by now that the Queensland government is more concerned with spurious international treaties than caring for our Australian farmers. They certainly do no care that our livestock, particularly our breeding herds, perish. It suits their general agenda. And why do we need loans to support our farmers and graziers in times of exceptional need? Surely Grants in Aid would be the best way to support these families and keep important industries going. Despicable people with despicable agendas.
That link for AgForce’s molasses form is https://agforceqld.org.au/molasses 🙂