Floods devastate beef industry

Tens of thousands of cattle stranded by floods in Queensland have been left to starve because owners cannot drop feed to them and state authorities say they are powerless to act.

Farmers fear the rain and floods that have affected two-thirds of Queensland will devastate the beef industry in some regions, while sugarcane growers are also bracing for heavy losses.

The federal Government last week offered aid to disaster areas, including the use of army helicopters to ferry fuel to the flooded town of Ingham to help relief efforts.

While food supplies were getting to some towns, there were no plans for government feed drops to stranded livestock, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries assistant director-general, Tony Rayner, said.

The welfare of animals was primarily the responsibility of their owners, who could apply for loans under disaster legislation, Rayner said.

“We are working with industry and local authorities to see exactly how big the losses will be.”

In many cases, livestock have moved hundreds of kilometres from their stations, which means identifying their owners is difficult.

And with much of the area under water, station owners have no feed and many of the animals have been left to die.

Queensland Cattle Council president, Greg Barns, said the floods would devastate the beef industry.

“The situation in many cases is really beyond human intervention,” Barns said.

The Shire of Carpentaria, which takes in the flooded regions around Karumba and Normanton, has been forced to reject several requests from cattle stations to herd livestock into town, because they do not have the space.

Pilots flying over the Gulf country have reported thousands of starving or dead cattle.

The sugar industry has also been hit, with growers in the Burdekin region around Townsville fearing the floods could reduce this year’s crop by 20%.

— The Australian

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