Fraser Coast among seven regions drought declared
FRASER Coast is among seven regions to be drought declared.
Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne today accepted the recommendations of Local Drought Committees that Fraser Coast, North Burnett, South Burnett, Cherbourg, Gympie, Somerset and the remainder of Banana have be added to the list of shires that are officially in-drought.
The Fraser Coast's record-low rainfall during the past year added weight to the region's campaign for drought declaration.
"In fact, the Fraser Coast region had the lowest rainfall in its recorded history over the past 12 months and the overall outlook for the cane industry and other cropping in the Fraser Coast is poor," Mr Byrne said.
Mr Byrne said that on Tuesday he asked LDCs across south east Queensland to meet at their earliest opportunity.
"The committees would normally expect to meet during April but I asked them to bring their meetings forward because of the lack of rain during the wet season," he said.
"I have received the recommendations of seven committees to make a declaration and I have no hesitation in doing so.
"The declarations are effective immediately."
The verdict brings the total area of Queensland where drought is declared to 87.47%.
"That is the highest ever and I am still waiting for some committees to send me their recommendations," Mr Byrne said.
"I have been advised that while some parts of the South East Queensland have received some patchy storm rainfall over the summer season, good general rainfall across the whole region has not been received.
"In Gympie, producers are already feeding hay for roughage as well as protein and energy feeds due to the loss of paddock roughage in some areas.
"Around Biloela there are very large rainfall deficits and there were no summer dryland crops this year."
Drought declared producers are able to access DRAS fodder and water freight subsidies and emergency water infrastructure rebates as well as access to other programs in the Queensland Drought Assistance Package if they are eligible.
This includes relief from electricity charges, land rent rebates and water licence waivers as well as access to a number of community and mental health programs.
The threshold for a drought declaration is generally a once in 10 to 15 year rainfall deficiency.