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Silver lining for farmers

Crops can be protected with a special non-toxic clay
Crops can be protected with a special non-toxic clay Jordan Philp

SOUTH Burnett farmers have found a silver lining following recent weather events, after the region was declared a Category D disaster zone.

The news came from the Federal Government on Saturday after weeks of lobbying by the South Burnett Regional Council to ensure those worst affected have access to more funding.

Byee cotton farmer Peter Enkelmann couldn't be happier. "It's excellent news. It's what we were hoping for.

"It's what we got last time and it was so important we were able to apply for category D loans and funding again.

"The sheer cost and preparation needed to get back to where we were will require a bigger loan availability."

But although the region is a Category D disaster zone it doesn't mean all farmers and land holders across the South Burnett are automatically eligible for the funding.

Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said he was delighted to receive the news.

He said it meant farmers and rural landholders could apply for $50,000 grants and up to $650,000 low interest loans, a rate of 1.7%.

Undoubtedly, primary producers in the South Burnett were the hardest hit.

Major cropping operations in the Byee district all but kissed goodbye income for years to come as their farms were gouged at by raging flood waters.

Byee cotton grower Peter Enkelmann said his income may be damaged for up to three years.

"We have just planted what we could on land which was still viable," Mr Enkelmann said.

"A lot of our property is still too wet to access to assess the damage.

"I estimate the overall loss for us will be between $600,000 and $700,000."

Meanwhile lucerne farms on Barambah Creek were hit hard with the alluvial blacksoil flats engulfed by an inland sea.

Redgate lucerne farmer Lyle Hasselbach said the water levels were slightly lower than 2011, but in some ways more damaging.

"Last flood we had very little erosion and we mostly had fence damage," Mr Hasselbach said.

"This time there was a fair amount of dirt lost.

"The water this time caused some severe erosion and it wasn't just the soil, it was the crops planted which were lost too."

Neighbouring wineries in the Barambah district were also negatively impacted by the ongoing rain in the midst of their harvest.

Clovely Estate wine maker Kieran Carney said it was a hard hit on the red wines after a much anticipated high quality wine making season.

"All of our white grapes were harvested before the rain hit," Mr Carney said.

"But there was just too much water in a short period of time which affected the integrity of the skins of the red berries.

"The humidity after the rain brought on issues with mould and development which has resulted in a significant loss in quality and yield."

Those farmers with dairy cattle were affected during the rain when trucks were unable to get to and from their properties to collect milk, a problem that has since subsided.

However, a number of beef cattle producers across the region continue to be affected by roads damaged by the floods which are inhibiting their ability to transport cattle to be sold.

South Burnett livestock carrier Terry Cross said he knew of a number of cattle producers who were still unable to move cattle from their properties.

"They are unable to move cattle to market or from farm to farm," Mr Cross said.

"Some roads you can't even get a four-wheel-drive up, let alone a truck.

"It's a very great inconvenience and for people under financial pressure it is going to make it very hard for them.

"Some people are also unable to gain access to their properties to check their cattle.

"It's a damn mess really, the council has only just finished doing all the roads up and now they are a mess again."

South Burnett


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