HAY IN DEMAND: Southern Downs farmers are scrambling to find feed for their livestock.
HAY IN DEMAND: Southern Downs farmers are scrambling to find feed for their livestock. Greg Miller

Region's farmers urged to make the most of drought help

DROUGHT is turning Southern Downs land to dust and farmers are scrambling to find feed during the hay shortage, but farmers are being urged to take advantage of funded assistance available.

Warwick-based Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said more than half of eligible Queensland farmers had not applied for drought assistance, but Warwick farmers could reach out to rural financial counsellors to assist with making an application.

"They'll come on farm and go through your business and go through those things that are available,” he said.

Mr Littleproud said support included loans and farm household assistance to help keep food on the table.

The Member for Maranoa announced on Tuesday that $20million would be invested in expanding rural financial counsellors to at least 2020.

The service helps farmers identify financial options, negotiate with lenders, develop an action plan and seek referrals to other support services.

Counsellors do not provide family, emotional or financial advice.

The assistance is becoming increasingly important as Southern Downs farmers are finding it virtually impossible to source hay during the worst fodder drought in the region since 1965.

Some producers have been forced to buy their hay from as far as South Australia.

Texas-based lucerne producer Greg Finlay earlier this month said as farmers looked to de-stock, slaughter grids were also filling up.

"I've got dairy farmers here that can't feed their cattle and also can't reduce their stock numbers,” Mr Finlay said.

Mr Littleproud said the government had invested heavily in drought assistance.

"We're inviting the state government to come on the journey with us in terms of support, we've spent over a billion on drought support,” he said.

For more information about rural financial counselling phone the Warwick contact person Michael Fagg on 0419732591.