Blackall-Tambo, Cook, finally eligible for category C help

State government announces category C grants for Cook, Blackall-Tambo


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Some of the thousands of sheep that became bogged after 200mm of rain or more deluged the Blackall and Tambo regions in March. Photo supplied.

Some of the thousands of sheep that became bogged after 200mm of rain or more deluged the Blackall and Tambo regions in March. Photo supplied.

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Nearly seven months after thousands of sheep bogged and died in the Blackall-Tambo region, graziers have been given the news that Category C assistance has been extended to them under the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

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Jack Banks, one of the Blackall landholders that could benefit from this week's announcement that category C assistance has been extended under the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, says his family has never carried so much debt in their lives.

He's one of the producers who took on extra debt after losing thousands of sheep seven months ago in the wake of Severe Tropical Cyclone Trevor's deluging of western Queensland, changing the landscape of drought to a sea of black mud that sucked even the strongest sheep down.

Category B primary producer assistance was activated for a number of local government areas in the wake of the monsoon low, bringing immediate assistance for impacted producers via access to concessional loans and freight subsidies.

Queensland agriculture minister Mark Furner said that based on the number of primary producers impacted and the extent of damage suffered by producers in localised areas of some shires, category C had now been activated to provide additional recovery assistance for heavily impacted producers in specified areas of the Cook Shire Council and Blackall-Tambo Regional Council areas.

It means landholders to the south of the Landsborough Highway in the Blackall-Tambo region, plus those in the Cook Shire Council, can now apply for grants of up to $25,000.

Eligibility is for graziers in the area of the Blackall-Tambo region south of the Landsborough Highway.

Eligibility is for graziers in the area of the Blackall-Tambo region south of the Landsborough Highway.

The Banks family, south west of Blackall, said any assistance was appreciated in the circumstances brought on by a combination of years of drought and one enormous fall of rain.

They have been working with the Rural Financial Counselling Service and QRIDA since the March rain to make the best of their circumstances to replace some of the sheep lost in their paddocks.

"Our stock losses would cover the $25,000 grant many times over," Mr Banks said. "It turned out to be what we suspected, about 5000 grown sheep and 2500-3000 lambs that didn't get to lambmarking stage."

Making use of low interest loans available via QRIDA, they sourced 1800 Merino ewes from Coonamble, Walgett and Tottenham via AuctionsPlus, which Mr Banks said was a very expensive transaction.

"We sold young wethers to the meatworks at Charleville this week," he said. "Their wool-growing potential would have been good but we needed the cashflow."

A month ago they sold their woolclip after an August shearing, jagging the start of a downturn in the current volatile wool market, but will be joining their ewes next week, with the aim of building numbers again as quickly as possible.

It's the juggle of buying and selling against a background of virtually no rain or rain all at one time, in a market that favours the seller, that makes this week's announcement so welcome.

Federal minister for natural disaster and emergency management David Littleproud said Trevor's long-term effects on graziers were still being felt in many regions.

"This will give grants of up to $25,000, helping farmers to put things back to normal. We're working with the state to help communities with their long-term recovery after this cyclone."

Quizzed on the time taken to make the announcement, Queensland Reconstruction Authority CEO Brendan Moon said time was needed to gather the evidence to support DAF's case to the federal government.

He said the ongoing impacts of Cyclone Trevor warranted the negotiation of special circumstance grants.

Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin said he understood the pressing issues facing assessors.

"I do understand there were a lot more people in a lot more trouble than we were," he said.

"I was aware it was progressing. The timing of this is good - some of those people might have to spend money on cottonseed feeding their sheep yet.

"In some areas, the rain didn't grow a lot of grass - there was zero follow-up rain."

He understood a "couple of dozen" producers had been badly impacted in the shire. He and his wife were among those affected, losing 30 per cent of their weaner wethers.

"That dented our budget so for those who lost 15,000-20,000 sheep, I imagine their budget will be altered considerably for some time," he said.

Category C clean-up and recovery grants are administered by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority on behalf of the Queensland and Commonwealth governments. Visit the website or freecall 1800 623 946 for more information.

Freight subsidies are administered by DAF. For more information call 13 25 23.

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