Cattle producers across inland Australia are facing an anxious wait to see if potentially widespread forecast rain comes to fruition.
For the past week or so 7-14 day precipitation forecasts have been pointing to likely storm activity across a wide tract of the country, and particularly eastern regions, this week.
On Friday Meat & Livestock Australia said a combination of last week's rainfall in Central Queensland, where storms delivered 25-50mm, and the prospect of further widespread rain this week had helped to fuel increased restocker activity which saw the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator close 7c higher for the week to 301.25c/kg.
As of this morning a broad trough is extending from north western Western Australia through to south eastern NSW.
At present the heaviest rainfall appears likely to occur in the eastern regions of Queensland and New South Wales, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The trough is currently triggering showers and storms from the Kimberley into southeastern NSW, with potentially severe storms expected over coming days in South Eastern Queensland and northern NSW in particular.
Further south a separate system surrounding an upper level low is also bringing rainfall to parts of Southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
Weather Channel forecasts suggested that another low could also form later in the week which may drive more rain into Eastern Australia.
For the time being the forecasts are fuelling some much-needed hope for producers.
Marcus Curr from Yelvertoft Station near Mount Isa recently hosted federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce during his tour of drought-stricken properties in Queensland’s north west.
At an AgForce Paddock to Plate Forum in Gladstone on Saturday Mr Curr told Beef Central that a combination of recent storm activity and returning live export market orders was contributing to a lift in spirits.
Mr Curr, who has measured barely an inch of rain on Yelvertoft during 2013 so far, and is agisting, lot feeding and hand-feeding cattle until rain arrives, was focusing on the positives at Saturday’s forum.
“There are storms about so it is promising,” he said.
“I notice the live export market has kicked a bit.
“It is ordinary at home at the moment but hopefully it is going to be a positive future.“
The Currs have traditionally marketed about half their annual turnoff into the live export trade and are currently talking to agents about sending cattle into the new orders now about for Indonesia.
He said the orders would provide a much needed boost to cash flow.
“That is one of the biggest things about this year,” he said. “Droughts come and go, but we need to kick start industry, we need to be able to make money so we can handle more droughts.
“That is the problem, we have had a double hit, we have had a shocker of a year and the worst cattle prices in 20 years.”
When Mr Joyce visited Yelvertoft last month Mr Curr said he discussed with the minister the need to cut red tape for producers.
He said he was happy with the minister’s revised Farm Finance package announced late last week which included additional concessional loan funding for Queensland producers.
“I think any extra funding is welcome,” he said.
“Whatever we can get we’re grateful for
“Unfortunately it is a little bit too late for a lot of people, it has been let go too long.
“But probably the most important thing that he said for me was that he is cutting a lot of the red tape
“That has been the hardest thing for the whole show. It is all very well to say we’re going to give you money, but the work and the time you have to go through to get it, it is too late by the time you do get it.”