Rotten and crumbling crops and eroded riverbeds have left deep scars on farmland along the border rivers between Queensland and New South Wales.
- Farmers are reeling from successive disasters
- Floods destroyed some crops along Queensland’s rivers
- Governments offer low-interest payback loans to farmers
Farmers are starting to realize the extent of the damage as floodwaters begin to recede in some areas.
“The impact of these recent floods is simply heartbreaking and devilish,” said Natasha Johnston, a Queensland agricultural charity, Drought Angels.
Successive natural disasters
For the second time this year, the Dumaresq River overflowed last week, inundating farmland near Texas, 300 kilometers southwest of Brisbane.
âUp to 100 percent of the barley crop has been lost in the district and the cotton has also been damaged at 30 percent, according to reports from friends,â Texas farmer Greg Finlay said.
Farmers were still recovering from the March floods which also destroyed entire crops.
These disasters follow a record drought culminating in the driest years on record in 2018 and 2019.
âMany of my farmer and business owner friends are feeling numb by yet another natural disaster,â Finlay said.
For some, these crops represented the first stable cash flow for several years.
Texas farmer Adam Cleeve lost his entire barley crop within days of harvest.
âBasically the harvest is ruined,â Mr. Cleeve said.
Mr. Cleeve said the flooding could have caused up to $ 100,000 in damage to his properties.
âWe’ve had so many losses that you get used to it after a while,â he said.
Reason to hope
The critical difference between the recent flooding and the March event is the crop stage.
While many winter crops ready for harvest have been irreparably damaged, some recently planted crops can survive if wet weather lingers.
The flood also replenished water resources in areas still recovering from drought.
Mr Finlay said he was also comforted by the resilience and support of the local community.
âEveryone knows they’re just going to come in and make it work,â he said.
“We’re going to be fine, we always do.”
Industry groups say many rural properties remain isolated, so the full cost of flood damage to crops and properties will not be known until the wet weather subsides and the waters recede.
The Queensland government and the federal government have extended disaster assistance to primary producers affected by flooding in central, southern and western Queensland.
Financial assistance is provided through jointly funded disaster recovery funding agreements in the form of low interest loans.
“[This] will provide concessional loans of up to $ 250,000 to primary producers and essential working capital loans of up to $ 100,000 to continue on-farm operations, âsaid Bridget McKenzie, Federal Minister of Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience.
Local charities BlazeAid and Drought Angels are also helping.
Drought Angels delivered emergency food baskets by road and even by helicopter to families in need.
The association also sends Christmas gifts before the end of the year celebrations.
âI actually spoke to a few families last week who said they could no longer afford Christmas presents because of this flood. They cannot afford Christmas presents for their children,â he said. Mrs Johnston said.
“The Christmas spirit is not going to be broken for them.”