The federal government has confirmed that it will undertake fodder drops for cattle cut off by flooding and north west Queensland.
It is welcome news for many isolated on homestead islands dotted around north western parts of the state that are desperate to assist their stock.
Federal agriculture minister, David Littleproud, made the announcement after speaking with Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and said while the logistics were still to be worked out, the Australian defence force would use its aircraft to help graziers.
“Thousands of cattle are cut off by floodwaters and we had to act decisively to stop them from starving,” he said. “I wrote to the Queensland agriculture minister yesterday letting him know the federal government was ready to assist in any way necessary.”
Related: Producers fear stock losses
The request was one that the Cloncurry Shire Council had put on the table through its Local Disaster Management Group, and mayor, Greg Campbell, said their heavy lifting may be very welcome.
“It’s probably another day before we’ll know just what the situation is out there,” he said, referring to the scale of stock losses.
He was concerned about the availability of hay for any mission, noting that even at the Cloncurry saleyards, 1000 head stuck in transit from the Northern Territory to Rockhampton were being fed daily.
“We’ve been talking to producers and access to hay is definitely their first issue,” he said.
“It’s still raining at this stage so getting it out can’t happen yet.
“And it’s a big balancing act, making sure you don’t stress stock and force them into water or anything.”
The shire’s NDRRA activation was made on Tuesday morning, meaning it could undertake emergent works on road damage.
It also acts as the first trigger for producers needing financial assistance.
Cloncurry and Richmond shire mayors were among those to have spoken to Queensland agriculture minister, Mark Furner, to instigate category C disaster assistance for their regions.
Cr Campbell said he expected it would happen within days if not sooner, and that he understood Mr Littleproud was fully prepared to support such a request from the state government.
“Some of our landholders are going to be OK, some are shaping to be catastrophic, and some will be somewhere in between,” he said.
“The volume of the rain to the south hasn’t been as bad as it is in the north of the shire.
“Anywhere there’s black soil is finding it tough going, and where two or three rivers are joining up, that’s where big problems are being felt too.”
He said this week’s weather would have a devastating effect on cattle companies well into the future, and while category C would assist with restocking costs, that was still well down the track.
“Physically, we can’t do much for people at the moment but we’re doing everything we can politically for them.”
Isolated landholders are urged to contact council, which is in the throes of coordinating food and medicine resupplies with the aid of a Jet Ranger helicopter it had brought in under Local Disaster Management Group guidelines.
Cr Campbell said even if the resupply was not needed for a few days, knowledge would help council plan the helicopter’s movements.
He said it would be loaned to the bottom end of Carpentaria and Burke Shire Councils as well.