Near-new fencing scrapped as gulf farmers face steamy rebuild

Near-new fencing scrapped as gulf farmers face steamy rebuild

Replacing near-new fencing that should have lasted decades is a bitter task for graziers in the oppressive heat of the gulf country’s wet season as they recover from ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily.

Just five years after devastating flooding wiped out about 450,000 cattle and 22,000km of fencing, graziers are facing skyrocketing costs to rebuild again.

“It’s not ideal this time of year to be out fencing … but I think another fortnight and we’ll have it under control,” Ray Fleming, from Broadlands Station at McKinlay, said.

“We’ve been out putting a lot of it back up and we’ve probably been luckier than some.”

Stock were moved to higher ground as floodwater rose in McKinlay in January and February.(Supplied: Matterson Knyvett)

While stock losses were significantly lower than in 2019, Mr Fleming said the intense rain and flooding from early February caused more damage.

“We got 389 millimetres over three days, and 300 of that was in 24 hours,” Mr Fleming said.

“My father-in-law has been here all his life and he said it’s [the flooding] the highest he’d ever seen it.

“It [floodwater] went places where it doesn’t usually go.”

Skyrocketing steel prices

At a rural supplies store in Julia Creek, Shauna Royes said orders for fencing materials came in thick and fast in the days after the rain started falling.

She said a higher cost for materials was adding to producers’ frustration.

“Anything steel has skyrocketed,” Ms Royes said.

“Since 2019 everything has gone up 10 or 15 per cent, so it’s not good.”

While many producers accepted working in the heat and humidity of the wet season, Mr Fleming said the repair bill was hard to take.

“It’s quite a big increase in price,” he said.

“The cost of everything has gone up and when you go to buy a lot of material like that the price rise is very noticeable.”

While major fencing suppliers had offered discounts for flood-affected producers, Ms Royes said it was still an expensive and frustrating job.

“It’s still way above and it doesn’t go down … it just keeps going higher,” she said.

Disaster funding available

The Australian and Queensland governments have announced joint disaster assistance funding for 32 local government areas.

It includes disaster assistance loans up to $250,000, essential working capital loans of up to $100,000 and freight subsidies up to $5,000.

Queensland Minister for Disaster Recovery, Nikki Boyd, said financial support was available through the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.

“These low interest loans for primary producers are designed to help with replacing farm equipment that’s been damaged by the floods, helping with livestock management, paying wages, or purchasing items such as fuel, fodder and water,” she said.

“It provides the safety net farmers need during the hard times.”

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries also activated primary producer relief measures.

Primary producers across Boulia, Burke, Burdekin, Charters Towers, Moreton Bay, Cloncurry, Doomadgee, Etheridge, Lockyer Valley, McKinlay, Mount Isa, Richmond, Townsville, Western Downs and Winton councils are eligible.

Ms Boyd said the government was monitoring the situation, and the assistance would be extended if needed.

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