Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner announced the entire Southern Down region is drought declared following extremely dry conditions and little to no rainfall in recent months in a press conference on Friday 18 May.
“During the last 12 months much of southern, central and western Queensland continued to receive below to well-below average rainfall,” Mr Furner 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 12 months have also been very dry for the Southern Downs Regional Council area. 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 the region.”
Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said she fully supported the announcement, which will bring much needed relief to local producers suffering from dry conditions. “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and has been advocating strongly to the State Government to reinstate the region’s drought declaration after it was repealed in 2017,” Cr Dobie said.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. Recognising the dry conditions faced by our region has been a joint effort between Council, our local drought committee and Minister Furner and I’d like to extend my appreciation to all those involved in today’s decision.”
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,” he said. “However, to be eligible for these subsidies producers must ensure their property’s drought declaration is first revoked before introducing any livestock.”
Readers also enjoyed this story about Southern Downs libraries offering workshops for locals.