Emergency aid and funding will be made available to another 15 shires after 79 per cent of Queensland was declared in drought, the largest area ever recorded.
Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh added the southern Queensland Shires of Banana, Bundaberg, Cherbourg, Fraser Coast, Gladstone, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Moreton Bay, Noosa, North Burnett, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, and Western Downs to the already long list of drought stricken areas, effective from 1 March 2014.
Also included in the declaration are partial declarations for further areas of Central Highlands and Woorabinda.
Mr McVeigh said the drought now extended all the way to the coast, including some areas devastated 13 months ago by record flooding and was now pressing on the northern suburbs of Brisbane.
“The number of local government areas drought declared is now 38, plus four partially declared shires, increasing the area of Queensland that is drought declared to 79 per cent,” Mr McVeigh said.
“There are also 38 Individually Droughted Properties (IDPs) in another seven shires, and this number will continue to rise.
“Queensland is a big state and there is usually a drought somewhere, but this is the largest area of Queensland that has ever been drought declared at one time.
“The wet season in these newly declared shires has been very poor with many areas missing out altogether. February, normally one of the wettest times of the year, has been particularly dry.
“The Burnett and coastal areas from Gladstone to Caboolture have not received any useful rain since Cyclone Oswald. Darling Downs shires have also had a very hard summer, with a well below average dryland crop that failed for many producers, and to date no rain for winter crop planting.
“I am reminding all Queensland producers in need, not just those in areas drought declared for state government assistance, that the income support in the new federal assistance package is now available from Centrelink.
“Queensland and NSW are working with the Federal Government to make other aspects of the package, such as the debt restructuring loans, available as soon as possible.”
Mr McVeigh said those producers in drought declared areas lucky enough to have received rain may be thinking that they have enough pasture to bring livestock back to the property, even if the Local Drought Committee was not yet prepared to recommend revoking the drought declaration.
“Producers in this position should contact the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to discuss freight subsidies when returning livestock. DAFF has already issued three revocations of Individually Droughted Properties in the last fortnight,” he said.
The Revocation of an Individually Droughted Property entitles the producer to livestock transport subsidies for restocking or returning from agistment. Subsidies are up to 100 percent for breeders and their progeny, or up to 75 percent for non-breeders.
Normal financial year caps for the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme up to $20,000 or $30,000 if the producer has an approved Drought management Plan, will apply.
Council areas currently drought declared:
Central Highlands (part declared)
Charters Towers (part declared)
Isaac (part declared)
Woorabinda (part declared)
Source: Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry