DROUGHT STATUS: Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner has reintroduced the Southern Downs' drought-declared status.
DROUGHT STATUS: Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner has reintroduced the Southern Downs' drought-declared status. Tahlia Stehbens

Drought-declared status returned

UPDATE:

MEMBER for Southern Downs James Lister has welcomed news that the region will again be drought-declared.

"I thank the Minister for Primary Industries and our local drought committee for this recognition of the drought plaguing our area.

"We've had such a dry summer. Hardly any rain has fallen in recent months and many farmers have been unable to plant crops for grain or forage.

"This drought declaration means that primary producers can access a range of support such as concessional loans, subsidies for stock transport, the waiving of certain fees, financial counselling, and community and financial assistance.

"This declaration will be a huge benefit to our agricultural economy and that will have flow on benefits for people working in the agricultural industries, and the small business in our towns and villages,” Mr Lister said.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said she fully supported today's announcement.

"Council has worked very hard and has been advocating strongly to the State Government to reinstate the region's drought declaration after it was repealed in 2017,” Cr Dobie said.

"Ensuring the drought declaration was reinstated was a priority for council because we simply have not had enough rain and it is putting much stress and pressure on our local producers.”

EARLIER:

STANTHORPE and surrounds has once again been drought-declared.

Queensland Government Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner made the announcement this morning.

Mr Furner said he accepted the recommendations of local drought committees to reintroduce and revoke drought status on a number of areas across the state.

"During the last 12 months much of southern, central and western Queensland continued to receive below to well-below average rainfall,” he said.

"A lack of useful spring and summer rainfall over the last four to five years, combined with above average temperatures, continues to have a major impact in most of pastoral Queensland.

"The last twelve months has also been very dry for the Southern Downs and Lockyer Regional Council areas. 

"There are significant concerns about stock, irrigation and rural domestic water supplies, and I have therefore accepted the local drought committee's recommendations to drought declare these council areas.”

Mr Furner advised producers in any drought-declared area who believed their property conditions were improved enough to allow restocking could have their property individually revoked.

"If their drought declaration is revoked, producers can access returning from agistment and restocking freight subsidies through the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS) for up to two years after the end of the drought declaration.

"However, to be eligible for these subsidies producers must ensure their property's drought declaration is first revoked before introducing any livestock,” he said.

It's better news for eight local government areas in Queensland.

"The local drought committees said pasture growth was good following welcome rainfall in the western portion of the Banana Shire Council, Bundaberg Regional Council, Burdekin Shire Council, the northern part of the Charters Towers Regional Council, Fraser Coast Regional Council, Gympie Regional Council, North Burnett Regional Council, Tablelands Regional Council, Townsville City Council, the declared portion of the Mareeba Shire Council and the Western Downs Regional Council,” Mr Furner said

"As a result, I have accepted the recommendations of the local drought committees to revoke these areas.”

In November last year, the government had rebuffed Southern Downs Regional Council's request to have the tag reintroduced.

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