The first of the Queensland government’s drought review forum workshops was held in Dalby on Friday.
It is one of six forums to be held in regional centres across Queensland, while written submissions are sought and encouraged, through September and closing on October 19.
Former Queensland Farmers Federation CEO, Ruth Wade, and past AgForce CEO, Charles Burke, are the two independent members of the panel who have been appointed to conduct the drought program review.
Addressing the meeting of 25 interested producers, both Mr Burke and Ms Wade spelled out with certainty that to complete their findings for their report they needed to hear from farmers.
“This is the most challenging drought, so what have we learned from this, and what will we know to do next time,” Mr Burke said.
“The government is keen to hear about the true broader impact it is having on local business and communities.”
Jimbour district grain and cotton farmer, Jamie Grant, said it had been dry for the past six years, and the government needed to look at a long term fix.
“We need a lower tax rate on the repayment of principal debt on loans, to give people an incentive to reduce debt and therefore the interest for when the drought hits.
“These handouts are garbage, and it only reaches a portion of the industry.”
Brookstead farmer, Lyn Brazil, Anchorfield, proposed that every farmer introduce a drought plan, similar to other quality assurance programs strategies they have in place.
“If you have your drought plan in place you can take it to your bank to seek finance to carry on until you are out of the drought, but you will need to repay it,” he said.
Dalby farmer, Kim Bremner, made the suggestion that farmers should benefit from reduced fixed costs such as rates, stamp duty on crop insurance, and vehicle and machinery registrations to assist them through the drought.
Member for Warrego, Ann Leahy, said the government really needed to rethink the inclusion of mulga as drought management, rather than in the vegetation act.
“Mulga is very high on the list of of drought recommendations, and it affects everyone from Charleville through to Dinmore meat processors,” she said.
“The utilisation of mulga trees to provide fodder for domestic stock during drought has been part of routine management on many grazing enterprises in south west Queensland’s mulga lands for over 100 years.”
Ms Leahy said mulga fodder harvesting was definitely not tree clearing.
The workshops will continue next week with meetings scheduled for Charleville on October 2, Ayr on October 3, Cloncurry on October 4, Bundaberg on October 5, and Longreach on October 8.