Dairy farmer Andrew Burnett felt the full force of last year’s floods.
Dairy farmer Andrew Burnett felt the full force of last year’s floods. Craig Warhurst

Farmers hit hard

FLOODWATERS were starting to recede in Gympie on this date last year, but damage repair and a massive clean-up effort were only just beginning.

For the region's economically vital farming sector, problems continue even now, with some croppers needing a good season this year because, having lost last year's crop, they have not had a pay cheque for two years.

"There's a hell of a lot of people a lot worse off than us," Goomong dairy farmer and real estate agent John Cochrane said, as he and his wife Margaret watched up to 10,000 litres of their milk being washed down the drain after the flood.

Deputy Mayor and Local Disaster Management Group chairman Tony Perrett said farmers had suffered severe disruption, with problems harvesting and marketing produce.

Property access tracks made it impossible for many to get into their paddocks and to get crops or stock out.

And the flood hit Rocklea Markets in Brisbane which were closed, making much of the harvest impossible for some growers to sell.

Meanwhile, with a transport-reliant food distribution system centred in Brisbane, cities like Bundaberg suffered retail vegetable shortages, even while cool rooms were full of wholesale supplies awaiting distribution.

Food, some of it bound for shops north of Gympie was stranded along the Bruce Hwy, including tonnes of seafood, meat and vegetables in refrigerated vehicles in Gympie, all of them stranded by flood waters cutting the road link to Brisbane.

Sexton farmers Andrew and Fiona Burnett found their paddocks too soaked to work and truck access impossible.

They also had to throw out about 10,000 litres of milk.

Of the 550 dairy farmers left in Queensland, Andrew told The Gympie Times he believed about 75% were affected by the big wet.

Inundated paddocks were also impossible for grazing, leaving the Burnett property waterlogged after about 200 acres was flooded, leaving them competing to buy feed.

Gympie Times

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