TWO cattle live export boats have been diverted from Townsville and another delayed as the north west Queensland floods cut roads and isolated properties in the region.
While measures have been put in place to ensure current export orders will be fulfilled, the impact on the vital market to the northern cattle industry is likely to be profound as the magnitude of the disaster unfolds.
Elders live export Queensland manager and Townsville agent Tom Kennedy said four shipments were likely to leave the Port of Townsville in the next fortnight, carrying about 15,000-16,000 head.
Another two boats, which had been scheduled to leave from Townsville, will instead dock at Port Alma in the Gladstone region to load another 8000 to 10,000 head.
Port Alma has proven to be a lifeline during the crisis, with the facility only reopening to live export in December.
“The cattle drawn from Townsville, there has been a number in feedlots, and there’s a lot of cattle coming out of central Queensland because they haven’t received the rain,” Mr Kennedy said.
“Port Alma is a logical choice.
“They got redirected there for a couple of reasons. One is the availability of yards in Townsville and the second is the number of cattle down there.”
Mr Kennedy said the unprecedented flooding had created challenges for the industry, as transporters endeavored to get beasts to ports.
“There’s been a lot of disruption, one mob of cattle went back through Birdsville to get to Darwin.
“There’s been a lot of drama caused, it’s been a logistical challenge, but in the height of it all, spirits have remained high.”
Wellard South East Asia manager, Gemma Lowe, said they had delayed loading one vessel from the Port of Townsville for a week due to the flood.
“We had previously intended to load about 6000 feeder cattle from Townsville in the middle of this week,” Ms Lowe said.
“Due to the rain-forced closure of pre-export quarantine and roads, loading won't happen until mid next week.
“We don't expect too much change to those numbers as the cattle have largely been bought from producers to the south and southwest of Townsville, who haven't been impacted by the flooding.
“Compared to the issues many Queensland cattle producers are facing with either drought or flood, the delayed loading of one of our vessels pales into insignificance.”
Mr Kennedy said initial estimates of 300,000 to 400,000 cattle lost to the north west floods would be a massive knock back for the industry.