By Jeremy Sollars
A renewed state drought declaration for the Southern Downs and Granite Belt could be imminent, as some local districts experience their lowest rainfall in two decades.
The Free Times understands Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner may make an announcement about drought declarations across the state during Beef Week 2018, being held in Rockhampton this week.
Beef Week ends this Saturday 12 May.
It is also understood the Southern Downs region Local Drought Committee (LDC) met in late April and recommended to the minister that a new drought declaration be issued here.
The LDC is made up of local producer representatives whose identities are kept confidential.
The Southern Downs Regional Council wrote to the State Government earlier this year requesting the reinstatement of a local drought declaration, and calling for a review of Local Drought Committee processes and drought criteria.
Previous calls for a renewed drought declaration have been rejected by the government due to the current process looking at 12 months of rainfall, with Cyclone Debbie in early 2017 having significantly skewed the local 12 month rainfall record.
Drought declarations allow farmers to access state government support including concessional loans, freight subsidies for the transport of livestock, water and fodder, land rent rebates, water fee relief, financial counselling, health care assistance and a range of federal government programs.
More than 50 per cent of Queensland is currently drought-declared, including our neighbouring council regions of Toowoomba and Goondiwindi.