AT least 120 drought-stricken graziers from across Queensland have committed to a scheme to import molasses to feed their livestock.
AgForce has been inundated with support for a plan in which graziers would nominate the amount of molasses they require and pay for it upfront in a bid to get a shipment imported.
AgForce central Queensland president, John Baker said he had been told there was only a couple of weeks supply left in Queensland, and most was contracted.
“Anyone who hasn’t got a contract is looking pretty shaky,” Mr Baker said.
“We have had a lot of calls from members in the last week and we are trying to find out now how many people might need molasses, and what sort of quantities.
“They would have to commit financially as well. If we can get enough, AgForce can try to coordinate with someone who can import it, assuming there is any to import.
“The last count I heard was just over 120, they were members who had said they are prepared to put money upfront.
“There’s a lot of hurdles to get over yet.”
Mr Baker said molasses was a vital supplement for many graziers in times of drought.
“If you started using molasses, it would be pretty devastating to lose it.
“If it suddenly became unavailable, a heck of a lot of cattle would lose condition really quickly, especially if the dry continues for the next couple of months.”
Sugar mills across Queensland are reaching the end of their crush and the molasses produced will fill international and domestic contracts.
LNP agriculture spokesman, Tony Perrett said government intervention was needed to fix the crisis. “Molasses is used as a feed supplement to balance out cattle’s diet during prolonged dry and it’s an essential ingredient in our farmers’ day-to-day arsenal in getting through droughts,” Mr Perrett said.
“We have a situation where Queensland farmers cannot get their hands on the essential molasses they need to keep their cattle alive.”
Capricornia MP, Michelle Landry said import protocols were in place for molasses and there were importers who held licenses to import it into Australia.
“An extensive process is able to be undertaken by importers with the Department of Agriculture and I encourage them to do so; the sooner the paper work is done, the sooner the molasses can arrive,” Ms Landry said.
“I have been contacted by a number of graziers this week who are nervous about keeping their stock healthy after not being able to get molasses deliveries they have been relying on.”
Australian Sugar Milling Council CEO, David Pietsch said molasses supplies had been tight all season, with the dry also impacting the sugar industry.
“The 2018 crushing season is likely to finish much earlier than normal due to the dry conditions,” Mr Pietsch said.
“Molasses supplies have been tight all season with heavy demand for stock feed meaning there has been very limited availability of the product outside of that already contracted.
“The sugar milling sector will assist any government and industry initiatives to determine how additional molasses could become available, noting the complex logistics involved, particularly if imports are part of the solution.”