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Many farmers thankful for rain

Alan Millard, a Wolvi cattle and small crops farmer, was happy to see the rain this week.
Alan Millard, a Wolvi cattle and small crops farmer, was happy to see the rain this week. Renee Pilcher

THE floods have impacted on everybody in the Gympie region but the devastation in the rural sector has been mitigated by the timing of the deluge and the rate the rain fell.

Kilometres of fencing and farming infrastructure, as well as rural equipment and untold head of stock, were washed away by swollen creeks and the Mary River.

Dams burst and causeways were washed out but determining the overall financial impact won't be easy.

It was the loss of power that was most devastating for some farmers.

Goomboorian dairy farmer Trevor Mahaffey estimated his loss at tens of thousands of dollars in lost milk production, when his Webster Rd property went without power for 55 hours.

Mr Mahaffey said it would take about two weeks to get his 120 head herd back to full production and over the mastitis, which many of his cows developed as a result of not being milked for three days.

About 50% of the state's dairy industry has been impacted by the floods, at a cost of about $40 million.

Most Gympie small crop farmers appeared to have escaped catastrophic erosion.

Some said while there was obviously too much of it, the rain fell "almost perfectly" from a crop farmer's point of view.

While the rain was not good for button squash grower Mick Sims, who lost 60% of his crop near The Dawn, "it could have been worse".

His fields received about 400mm in four days and, while there was no erosion, the plants and seeds simply "drowned" and rotted in the ground.

"It could have been worse," a philosophical Mr Sims said.

"We could have been in Bundaberg. We have just got to wear the loss and move on, grin and bear it. We were a lot worse off last year."

Wolvi cattle and small crops producer Alan Millard was fixing damaged fences this week.

"Farmers may have lost fences and some livestock but we needed the rain. By hell it was dry," Mr Millard said.

Goomboorian pineapple producer and rural spokesman Peter Buchanan said many farmers had been deeply concerned about how dry it had been before the rain.

The region's growing number of ginger producers had been particularly worried, he said.

To then have the rain fall so gently over so many days was incredible, he said.

"In general, we can be very thankful," Mr Buchanan said.

"In my life, I would never have seen such gentle rain."

Will Garrett's Langshaw ginger farm received 600mm in four days but had little erosion.

"It was too much rain but it was about as good as it can be," he said.

Bean farmers won't plant their crop until February.

Topics:  crops farmers floods gympie mary river rural

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