Darling Downs farmers welcome drought assistance

THE drought that is crippling Darling Downs farmers has now been officially recognised in a government effort to assist those struggling on the land.

Toowoomba, Western Downs and Southern Downs were yesterday among 15 shires added to the drought declared list.

The additions mean 79 per cent of Queensland is now drought declared, the largest percentage on record.

With the declaration has come access to emergency aid funding, which has been welcomed by Bowenville farmer Kim Bremner.

He has had to make sacrifices with his irrigated cotton and corn crops after prolonged hot weather dried his dams.

"We thought we had enough water this year but with the heat and the wind we lost a lot to evaporation," Mr Bremner said.

Bowenville farmer Kim Bremner.
Bowenville farmer Kim Bremner. Photo Contributed

Miserly falls on his property of 20mm in December, 16mm in January and 5mm in February have done little to alleviate his problems.

His cotton will be harvested a month before schedule and the corn will no longer be a grain crop, instead downgraded to silage.

Having to harvest cotton a month early will have a significant effect on the amount yielded.

He took solace from the fact he was at least able to plant a summer crop, saying the drought assistance would be welcomed by those who didn't have enough moisture to get a crop in the ground.

"It is good news but I'm just not sure how grain growers can benefit from it."

Ideally, he said he would like to see assistance for farmers who employed people to help them.

"Agriculture has a long-term commitment to employees.

"We will keep them on during the hard times as well."

Minister for Agriculture John McVeigh said the number of local government areas drought declared was now 38, plus four partially declared shires.

He said financial year caps for the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme up to $20,000 or $30,000 if the producer has an approved drought management plan, would apply.

For more information on the scheme call 132 523 or visit http://www.daff.qld.gov.au.