Graziers affected by drought are begin urged to being sourcing molasses and putting other measures in place now to deal with an expected El Nino weather pattern in the coming months.
Queensland agriculture minister John McVeigh said that after 18 months of severe drought in the State, home to close to half the nation’s beef cattle herd, there was still no sign of reprieve and producers must prepare themselves for the possibility of a delayed wet season.
About 75 per cent of the state is drought declared. The latest advice from the Bureau of Meteorology is that an El Nino pattern is expected to develop, increasing the likelihood of the current drought conditions continuing into 2015.
The Newman Government in Queensland first announced a drought assistance program in May 2013.
Mr McVeigh said the Government would continue to assist farmers through the tough times but said graziers should also start planning accordingly.
“Now is the time to reassess pasture and cattle numbers and develop a dry season plan,” he said.
“Plan ahead for supplements and molasses, establish contracts or purchase when there is greater availability and lower prices.
“Federal Government drought concessional loans are also available for a term of five years with interest rate of four per cent. The loans will be for up to 50 per cent of eligible farm business debt, to a maximum of $1 million. Farmers should contact QRAA for further information on Freecall 1800 623 946 or visitwww.qraa.qld.gov.au.”
AgForce general president Ian Burnett said he supported the call for primary producers to take steps to secure supplementary feed for the anticipated ongoing dry.
“Queensland has been severely impacted by this drought and all forecasts indicate we are in for another tough 12 months ahead,” Mr Burnett said.
“It is imperative that we look to secure supplies now to avoid missing out on molasses and other feedstuffs when it is too late.
“While we hope it rains and this feed will not be required it is better to have the molasses in the tank and to prepare for the worst case scenario.”
Where to source molasses –
Bundaberg Molasses Freecall: 1800 777 097
Wilmar Sugar Molasses Sales Burdekin Agent – Performance Feeds Pty Ltd Contact: Joan Warren (07) 4782 5995
Tully Sugar Contact: Camille Clarke (07) 4068 4715
Advice for livestock owners:
- wean any calves and look at what supplements may be needed
- weaning calves down to three months of age will help cows maintain condition
- adjust stock numbers according to currently available pasture and water supplies to see you through to the next wet season. Dry season forage budgeting videos can be viewed athttp://futurebeef.com.au/
- sell higher risk and less profitable stock such as pregnancy tested empty and late calving cows
- cull heifers, old cows, and those with poor temperament
- tools to help assess the cost of selling versus feeding and costing nutrients, production feeding or putting stock into a feedlot are available at http://futurebeef.com.au/
- consider the cost of nutrients, moisture content, risks, chemical and weed vendor declarations.
- Federal Government drought concessional loans now available. Farmers should contact QRAA for further information on Freecall 1800 623 946 or visit www.qraa.qld.gov.au.”
Maps of the drought declared areas and the boundary descriptions can be found atwww.longpaddock.qld.gov.au