Article by: Hari Yellina
Several areas of south-east Queensland have been declared drought-free, but farmers say it would take more than a few months of good rain to undo years of struggle. While torrential rains caused floods in the southeast and in numerous farming villages, the recent downpour has benefited other agricultural areas. Drought declarations in 11 Queensland regions have been overturned due to heavy rains since October last year. Belinda Callanan, a cattle farmer and the local president of Ag Force south-east Queensland, said that while the rain has given farmers new hope, it will take more than one spell of rain to get producers back on their feet. “It’s going to be a long trip back.” It’s not a one-year fix, but it’s exciting because individuals do have moisture issues.
However, the Toowoomba farmer added that many farmers have been suffering years of uncertainty as a result of drought conditions and crop losses, with others forced to sell their farms or seek another work. “The previous several years have been very difficult, with substantially below average rainfall, severe deficits, and water shortages year after year,” Ms Callanan said. “There’s a lot of financial stress and mental health problems.” People don’t want to be pessimists, but many people are in long-term debt. “It doesn’t seem to rain money.” Drought declarations have been revoked for the Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council, Fraser Coast, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba, and Scenic Rim LGAs, as well as the Fraser Coast, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba, and Scenic Rim areas.
“If a producer is having trouble in a region that hasn’t been declared drought, they can file for an Individually Drought Property (IDP) declaration,” Mr Furner explained. “This provides them the same access to our drought aid as an area declaration, and now is the time to start preparing for future droughts.” Droughts and floods are a natural part of our climate cycle, and now is the time to start preparing for them. Ms Callalan said she had great hopes for the future of south-east Queensland agriculture, despite the years of struggle, and has been waking up to green grass for the first time in years. “It’s just great to get up and see green grass for a change,” she added. “It’s really unusual waking up in late April and seeing new grass, paddocks with crops in them.” Things are starting to look up.