Farmers face ‘grim’ time

THE drought that now affects more than 70% of Queensland has become the most urgent issue facing the Gympie region, according to deputy mayor and Kilkivan cattle grazier Tony Perrett.

Hundreds of farmers to the west, east and now south of Gympie are facing dire circumstances heading into the traditionally drier months of autumn and winter.

It's a situation that could have grim ramifications for the region's economy which, along with manufacturing, is predominantly driven by agriculture.

"There is no doubt that this one of the, if not the, most pressing issue for some of our residents, this dry weather that is turning into a drought," Cr Perrett said.

"All parts of the region have experienced well below average rainfall in the last 10-12 months."

Cr Perrett's key message to property owners is to lodge an Individually Droughted Property application with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as soon as possible.

"Councils are not responsible for drought declarations," he said.

"The State Government is."

Cr Perrett also called on the Federal Government to "step up to the plate" and do something to help farmers.

He said many were struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce toured parts of drought-declared Queensland at the weekend, and an announcement of federal drought relief is expected this week.

"If there is going to be some assistance, we need to make certain some of our farmers are there," Cr Perrett said.

Some Gympie region cattle producers are already paying $3000-$4000 a week for fodder to keep their cattle alive.

This financial drain is further compounded by a market flooded with cattle as graziers try to offload, and subsequent "depressed" cattle prices.

"Farmers need to be proactive," Cr Perrett said.

"I have applied for IDP and it was easy - it didn't take long at all to fill out the forms," he said.

"When enough properties have IDPs on them (the State Government) starts invoking partial or whole-shire (drought) declarations."

How to apply for drought status

 Contact Damian O'Sullivan at Kingaroy DAFF

 PO Box 23, Kingaroy, Queensland, 4610

 Phone 4160 0717; Fax 4162 3238

Topics:  drought farming

Gympie Times