March 7, 2014
All the South Burnett and adjacent areas are now officially drought-declared which opens the way for local primary producers to access more assistance.
The council areas of the South Burnett, Cherbourg, Gympie, North Burnett and Toowoomba were today added to the long list of drought-declared areas in Queensland.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said she had been lobbying the relevant Ministers for a declaration to occur as soon as possible so struggling farmers could access further support.
“This week I went to State Parliament with the message that the South Burnett must be drought declared,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“I know there are a lot of farmers in the South Burnett who are struggling through these extremely dry conditions and I am very relieved that the region can now claim full drought assistance,” she said.
“I’d like to thank the Minister for Agriculture, Dr John McVeigh for considering and approving our Local Drought Committee’s recommendations,” she said.
South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann also welcomed the declaration.
“It’s really great news regarding a really sad situation ,” he said.
“There had been a little bit of rain in some parts of the South Burnett and I was worried that may effect the declaration, but I would like to thank the Minister for his foresight.
“It won’t solve all the issues for our primary producers but it will help.”
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio thanked the State Government.
“This region is Australia’s second most productive agricultural region and we know there are many farmers out there struggling to survive, this emergency aid and funding available will help to ease some of the pain,” he said.
Agriculture Minister John 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.
Fifteen shires were added to the drought list today, meaning 79 per cent of Queensland is now drought-declared … the largest area ever recorded.
“The number of local government areas drought declared is now 38, plus four partially declared shires,” Mr McVeigh said.
“There are also 38 Individually Droughted Properties (IDPs) in another seven shires, and this number will continue to rise.
“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.,” Mr McVeigh said.
“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.”
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Council areas currently drought declared are: Balonne, Banana, Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo, Boulia, Bulloo, Bundaberg, Burke, Carpentaria, Central Highlands (part declared), Charters Towers (part declared), Cherbourg, Cloncurry, Croydon, Diamantina, Doomadgee, Etheridge, Flinders, Fraser Coast, Gladstone, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Isaac (part declared), Longreach, Maranoa, McKinlay, Moreton Bay, Mt Isa, Murweh, Noosa, North Burnett, Paroo, Quilpie, Richmond, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Western Downs, Winton, Woorabinda (part declared).
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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 per cent for breeders and their progeny, or up to 75 per cent for non-breeders.
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For more information about the Federal Government’s Interim Farm Household Allowance, contact Centrelink on 13-23-16.