WE are all aware by now that sixty percent of the state is in drought, lets spare a thought for those severely affected by drought and the ongoing disasters that have occurred over the last few years through no fault of the graziers or producers.
Australia is the driest continent outside of Antarctica and the threat and presence of drought is just a part of life down-under.
Since the first recorded drought in 1791 there hasn’t been a single decade gone past when some part of Australia has not been in drought.
Each time drought has descended on Australia it has ravaged the country.
It has wiped out crops, decimated stock numbers, raised terrible, choking dust storms, destroyed outback communities, drained rivers and dams, driven murderous bushfires and marred hundreds of thousands of lives.
It has also cost the Australian economy billions of dollars.
Farmers and graziers are most often concerned with agricultural drought, which is also the type of drought that worries people in the grocery and meat business or people in farm communities that depend indirectly on agricultural income for their livelihoods.
Which ever way you look at it drought can be only be defined as lack of rain and with that comes hardship.
Over many years graziers survived the drought of 1969, the four year beef price crash of the early seventies, Paul Keating’s banking recession “we had to have in the 90’s”, and mining impacts of the 2000’s.
Although beef prices have not been conductive to a profitable industry for years, graziers keep producing a value-added, easy care animal suited to our climate.
It is very hard to imagine how the northern beef industry has become a train wreck due to government and industry body policies over the last two years.
The live export ban brought northern producers to their knees overnight. Considered by some to be virtually a separate industry within the beef industry, the closure caused a domino effect, reducing the floor price of store cattle.
Then another kick in the guts came from so called disease BJD quarantine and eradication policies to “protect” our industry from a disease which has no human health issues or real negative economic significance to the beef cattle industry.
The most important thing is for people to understand BJD is already in every breed of cattle not just confined to one breed.
Governments which spent millions of hard earned producer and government subsidised research and development dollars to prove bos indicus cattle are suited to the arid and tropical regions of Australia have now effectively cut off at the knees those producers who actually followed their advice.
This would have worked well for the multinational food retail stores who have formed advertising arrangements with breeds of cattle less suited to arid Australia.
Being able to keep their cattle alive has become the graziers’ number one priority.
With negative incomes, the huge freight, agistment and fodder costs involved, it will be impossible for many to maintain, let alone survive.
If producers can actually source fodder, they now have to pay double the prices since the start of the drought.
The graziers that feed molasses as an energy source for the cattle have found that supply simply cannot keep up with demand.
The crushing season finishes very soon, so hopefully the molasses quota will be enough to see the year out before it is exported overseas.
However, with a shortage of tankers to carry supplies on property, in some cases there has been a wait of up to six week’s wait.
Perhaps graziers and producers have taken a very mistaken view that they will be safer by changing the colour or their type of cattle.
There is an old saying Horses for Courses, Cattle for Country.
The Brahman Breed has been bred to withstand harsh and dry conditions and has become the ideal cattle for Northern Australia.
With agistment at a trickle, producers are now in the lap of the gods.