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Emergency summit for graziers in strife

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Politicians have asked the Queensland state government to get involved in an emergency summit tackling the uncertain future of the state’s graziers.

Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) leader and Federal member for Kennedy Bob Katter, State Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth and State Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter said graziers in the cattle industry are in a ‘crush’ as cattle prices fall, drought cripples areas from Charters Towers to the Northern Territory, devastating fires on property and weakened live export market.

Katter notified Treasurer Wayne Swan of the summit last Friday and said the committee would be announced this week.

The North West Star reported that Katter, speaking on behalf of all three politicians, said losses to cattle and land values may total $2,000 million and said it would only worsen over the next year.

“Rural debt in Queensland has leapt from $1.2 million to $1.4 million per farm in the last four months along whereas over two years ago it was just $700 000,” he said.

Rob Atkinson is the owner of Katandra Station near Hughenden. The cattle property in Flinders Shire is 40,000 hectares. He said he was midway through an ongoing de-stocking program after going through a ‘very lean’ wet season.

“We’ve had 40 millimetres for the year to date, normally the average would be 250 millimetres in that period of time,” he said.

Atkinson is one of many graziers selling stock he can no longer afford to feed. The flooding of cattle from stations undergoing drought brought the market price per head of cattle down.

Cattle trucks and abattoirs are booked for months.

While the government has offered financial assistance in the past, they cannot offer what the industry needs most- rain.

The emergency steering committee will have representatives from the cattle industry in Northern Australia along with the state and federal government.

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