News

Farmers will be 'gone tomorrow' if they can find buyers

DESPITE green grass and steady water supplies for the Fraser Coast, the region's farmers remain in the grip of a costly drought.

The majority of farmers would be "gone tomorrow" if they could find a buyer, cattle grazier Malcolm Beresford said.

"They've all had enough," the Boompa grazier said.

"It's a troubling time."

While heavy rainfall in March has helped, Mr Beresford said it did not come soon enough to allow grass to be used as a food source for the dry winter months for graziers and dairy farmers.

"The rainfall was just too late in the season," he said.

He said hay and grain supplies were both expensive and hard to come by.

"There's no hay in any sheds," he said.

"There's no backup supply anywhere."

Problems for the industry had been developing over the past decade, Mr Beresford said, as low prices combined with natural disasters.

Pastures, fences and crops across much of the Fraser Coast were heavily damaged by flooding in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

"It just came to a point there... there was just no fat left on the bone," Mr Beresford said.

He urged Fraser Coast families to avoid major supermarkets and instead shop at places that stock local fruit, vegetables and meat.

"That would be a big help," he said.

The drought has not limited its effect to the cattle industry.

Queensland Canegrowers has launched a petition to help address electricity costs that hit irrigators who rely on the practise when there is little rain.

The petition, which had 180 signatures as of Sunday, highlights a 90% increase in electricity pricing in the past seven years for irrigators.

It has called for a 33% price reduction to three separate tariffs used by farmers.

Prices in regional areas are set by the Queensland Competition Authority.

"Ongoing electricity prices at current or increased prices will mean irrigators ... will continue to reduce or remove irrigation and their farming operations will die," the petition states.

Local businesses and families have also been raising money to help address keep primary producers afloat.

Mr Beresford was one of about 100 people to attend a barbecue in Teebar earlier this month hosted by Maryborough MP Anne Maddern and councillor James Hansen.

The barbecue saw vouchers and donations handed out to about 60 farming families and was part of a three-day tour for Mrs Maddern of other drought-stricken areas.

Cr Hansen said in the last council meeting similar events will be held for primary producers in places such as Tiaro.

Farmers are also still eligible for drought assistance from the state and federal governments as the region remains drought declared.

Topics:  drought farming irrigation



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