The drought declared area of Queensland has reduced from a record 87.47 percent to 69.75pc, after the State’s agriculture minister this week accepted recommendations from local drought committees for revocations in several shires.
Drought status has been revoked in the northern shires of Burke, Carpentaria, Croydon, Etheridge, Doomadgee, Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw and Mount Isa, and the part shires of Cook and Mareeba.
Drought status in the Southern Downs shire has also been revoked.
“There is no doubt much of our state remains in the grip of a prolonged drought,” Agriculture Minister Bill Byrnbe said.
“Overall Queensland endured another harsh summer of well below average rainfall and above average temperatures.
“The main exception was in parts of the Gulf and the north where there was a normal monsoon season and summer rainfall.
“I am advised that rivers, streams and watercourses had good flows to replenish property dams and waterholes and pasture growth has been very good with most areas carrying a good body of feed into winter.”
Mr Byrne said he is awaiting further advice from local drought committees in the Central Highlands and in the south east where there was heavy rainfall associated with Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
“Committees there will review conditions to see if there is enough pasture to get them through to the next wet season and I expect to receive their recommendations in the coming weeks.”
Minister Byrne said in the revoked shires the drought-enforced movement of livestock out of the area had ceased and producers had started to rebuild their breeding herds.
“Producers in those areas who are still experiencing difficult conditions can apply for an Individually Droughted Property Declaration (IDP) which gives them the same access to Queensland Government drought assistance as an area declaration,” he said.
“Similarly, producers in remaining drought declared areas who believe their property condition allows them to restock can have their property individually revoked.
“They will then be able to access returning from agistment and restocking freight subsidies through the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS) for up to two years after the end of the drought declaration.
“Drought declarations have now been revoked in the north-west after one of their best wet seasons in years, but primary producers up there will still need support as they move into the recovery phase after years of drought.
“Today’s announcement also highlights the fact that while Cyclone Debbie delivered welcome rain in some areas, it followed another very hot and dry summer and there still hasn’t been enough rain to break the drought in the majority of the state.”
Drought declared primary producers can access fodder and water freight subsidies and emergency water infrastructure rebates, as well as relief from electricity charges, land rent rebates and water licence waivers if they are eligible.
Primary producers in areas where drought declarations have been revoked can apply for an individual droughted property declaration if they still require assistance.
Mr Maudsley said AgForce had developed a new approach to drought policy based on the agricultural business cycle that aimed to put producers in the driver’s seat in managing climate risks, and to deliver better outcomes for producers and governments.
“AgForce stands ready to work with the Government to ensure drought policy works to improve resilience and preparedness while also delivering effective assistance during extended, severe events like the one currently being experienced in more than two thirds of the state,” Mr Maudsley said.
Source: Qld Government, AgForce. Primary producers seeking more information about drought declarations and assistance measures available can visit www.daf.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.