Queensland Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne
Drought Declaration For Bundaberg Region
Victor P Taffa
Bundaberg region has been drought declared after Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne had immediately accepted a recommendation by the Local Drought Committee.
Drought declaration is effective from 1 March and brings to 84.29% the area of Queensland officially in drought.
“It is unusual for a Local Drought Committee to meet outside the normal cycle, but the Bundaberg region has suffered from poor rainfall and heatwave conditions during this wet season and I instructed them to meet urgently to consider making a declaration.” Minister Byrne said.
“Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson had advised me that the conditions in the region had deteriorated significantly and that is clearly the case.”
“I was also advised by the Department that there had been a spike in the number of producers applying for Individual Drought Property status.”
“That was why I instructed the Local Drought Committee to convene to make an independent assessment.”
“Drought Committee has advised that pasture response this growing season has varied due to storm rainfall but prospects from now into the winter are very poor due to extreme conditions.”
“There are reports of pasture dieback in the region and cane and cropping has suffered from the low rainfall and heatwave.”
Following the declaration, primary producers should check the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS) guidelines to confirm their eligibility for assistance.
Drought declared producers are able to access DRAS fodder and water freight subsidies and emergency water infrastructure rebates as well as access other programs in the Queensland Drought Assistance Package.
This includes relief from electricity charges, land rent rebates and water licence waivers as well as access to a number of community and mental health programs.
Under normal circumstances local drought committees meet once a year at the end of the summer rainfall period in April to discuss seasonal conditions including rainfall, availability of pasture and water and assess agricultural and horticultural industries. They can also take into account other abnormal factors.
The threshold for a drought declaration is generally a once in 10 to 15 year rainfall deficiency.