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Drought-Hit Farmers Given National Parks Lifeline

16 May 2013

AUSTRALIA - Proposed changes to legislation allowing temporary grazing on selected properties and National Parks until the end of the year may save the lives of more than 25,000 cattle affected by severe drought in the western reaches of the state.

Under the proposal announced by State Government, eight properties purchased in conjunction with the Commonwealth under the National Reserve System (NRS) - which have until recently operated as cattle stations - as well as an additional five areas currently declared National Park, will be temporarily available for use by Queensland’s most drought affected primary producers.

AgForce Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Charles Burke, said the proposed emergency agistment measures would provide short term access to up to 440,000 hectares of well-grassed land carrying 
valuable stock feed.

He said the move was critical to ensuring best possible animal welfare outcomes for affected stock under current severe weather conditions.

“More than a third of Queensland is now drought declared with serious pressure being placed on the viability of our graziers and their ability to deal with stock struggling under drought conditions,” Mr Burke said.

“The extent of this drought means there are few options available to primary producers in terms of selling stock domestically, while the ongoing reduction in the Indonesian live export permits as a result of the 2011 trade suspension continues to eliminate that market as much of an outlet for Queensland cattle.

“It simply makes sense to provide access to land that has grass available, and is in close proximity to some of the hardest hit areas of Queensland in order to relieve the increasing burden of this drought at a time when beef producers are facing a multitude of challenges including a high Australian dollar, poor prices and high debt levels.

“However we cannot stress enough, it is the welfare of our grazing stock that is front and centre and today’s announcement is a common sense measure which can be implemented in the short term and is the best possible way to avoid an animal welfare crisis.

“This will ensure more than 25,000 cattle will have access to urgently required feed, and in the longer term will help make sure our graziers can emerge from this difficult period to continue to be the best beef producers in the world and one of the most important industries in this state.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

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