NO RAIN IN SIGHT: Farmers are reaching out to MP Stephen Bennett and Allan Mahoney with concerns for their crops.
NO RAIN IN SIGHT: Farmers are reaching out to MP Stephen Bennett and Allan Mahoney with concerns for their crops. Toni Benson-Rogan

Stephen Bennett wants assistance for local farmers

MP STEPHEN Bennett has called on the Palaszczuk Government to reactivate the drought declaration for the Wide Bay Burnett region.

The State Member for Burnett said he would like to see a drought committee meeting held immediately to discuss the struggle local graziers and farmers are facing with their electricity relief assistance being ceased today.

"While the rest of Queensland and New South Wales are suffering a dire situation in the drought, we are also facing our own crisis," Mr Bennett said.

He said he would like to see the drought committee reactivate the drought declaration in the region for a four - six month period, which would ensure farmers have assistance until the summer rains.

"Our cane farmers are looking to replant their fields right now, but how can they if they can't afford water?" He said.

The region's drought declaration was revoked in May after considerable rainfall over the summer period meant criteria wasn't met for the Local Drought Committee (LDC) to recommend Wide Bay remain an area of immediate concern.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said conditions such as availability of surface water, the response and condition of pastures and crops, and prevailing weather conditions such as winds and temperatures were assessed when making the decision to revoke a declaration.

"LDC's meet at least once a year at the end of the summer rainfall period (April) to assess seasonal conditions and make their recommendations about the drought status of their areas," Mr Furner said.

"The Committees can also decide to meet at other times of the year if necessary."

Managing Director of Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Allan Mahoney said obviously other regions are suffering worse than Wide Bay in terms of water volume but water security needed consideration.

"Every individual grower at the moment is facing their own struggle with planning with the water allocation that they have and the types of crops that they have in play," Mr Mahoney said.

Mr Furner said producers in areas which are not drought declared can apply for an Individual Droughted Property (IDP) declaration to receive the same assistance as those in affected areas.

Mr Bennett said the applying for an IDP was not an easy feat, requiring a lot of paperwork and a requirement to be asset poor.

"Some people are on Individual Drought declarations and some people can get assistance, but what we're saying is our whole region is in crisis," he said.



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