Drought-ravaged Queensland graziers could lose half their herds after a once-in-a-century monsoon dumped three years of rain in just ten days.
Flood waters have swamped properties from Mount Isa to Charters Towers and south to Longreach.
The deluge has killed cattle in their thousands and left entire herds isolated and facing possible starvation.
Grazier Jamie Zammit at Wyreema Downs, south of Julia Creek, says it’s too boggy to inspect his 30,000-acre station but in the paddocks he can get to he’s found stock losses at 50 per cent.
“It’s pretty shitful. I can’t see anything but rain and dead animals,” he told AAP.
“At the end of the day it’s pretty much a disaster, everyone battled through the drought then got three years of rain in 10 days.”
“This country can’t handle rain like that, there are creeks where there were never creeks and we’ve never had rain like this in a 100 years of records.”
Rural Aid chief executive Charles Alder says hundreds of farmers are facing a dire situation, with up to 300,000 head of cattle affected.
“For these farmers who’ve been battling drought for five and six years it’s just crippling,” he told AAP.
Mr Alder says it’s a race against time to get food to the surviving cattle.
He estimates the cattle industry could be facing stock losses of up to $100 million.
“It’s going to be a big issue for banks because farmers aren’t going to be able to restock very quickly and they’re going to need to have cashflow to pay their bills,” he said.
“When you’ve got stock you sell some but if you’ve lost half it becomes a very marginal operation for you.”
He said getting help to flooded communities was very difficult, given how widespread the flooding was but 1500 hay bales were already heading north to affected communities
We’re hoping to begin delivering fodder to flooded communities on Friday, he said.
Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Linda Reynolds said recovery grants of up to $25,000 would be available for primary producers in seven local government areas.
“Gut-wrenching information has come through about stock losses of 25 to 50 per cent of entire herds of cattle and groups of 300 to 400 cattle clustered along fence lines as well as dead animals in flood water flowing through and around towns,” she said.
Source: SBS News