'It should never have been done'
JUST last year, Malcolm Gadsby had to lease another block of land just to keep his breeding cattle alive because his paddocks were too dry to sustain them.
Eighteen months later the land is still not healthy enough to bring them home.
Despite the dry conditions the drought declaration for the Southern Downs was removed in May.
Producers and the Southern Downs Regional Council are demanding it be reinstated. The decision to remove the Downs from the declaration was made "miles too early" and was damaging to producers according to Mr Gadsby, the manager of Talgai Santa Gertrudis.
Rainfall had started to improve, he said, but the season remained patchy.
"It should never have been done," he said.
"Leslie Dam is nearly dry and they've cut all of our water back.
"It's not just Warwick but they (producers) are only just starting to swim again and it's just too early to take the rug out from underneath them.
"By all means we need a lot more (rain) before we see any signs of good growth in our country."
Mr Gadsby said the stud used freight subsidies to transport the herd to the new block when the drought declaration was in place.
"Because they've taken that away from us, if we did have heaps of rain we don't have the subsidy to bring them home," he said.
Drought declarations are made by the State Government, on recommendations from Local Drought Committees.
A unanimous decision was made at this month's general meeting for the council to write to the incoming Minister for Agriculture to request the drought declaration for the region be immediately reinstated.
Councillor Rod Kelly moved the motion, saying he firmly believed the region remained in drought with lower-than-average rainfall.
"Eighty-seven per cent of Queensland is still drought- declared but we're not part of that," Cr Kelly said.
"The drought declaration provides rural producers with support in times of drought.
"That might be to get fodder or for water infrastructure for stock purposes. The benefits can be very real for producers in a drought."
The council will also request a member from its chamber join the LDC, because Cr Kelly said it was unclear who was on the committee and what the drought declaration criteria were.
"I'm not saying they didn't follow the criteria, I'm sure they have, but part of the request is a review of the criteria," he said.
"I would have to think that criteria is flawed after what we know our rainfall has been over a long period."
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' climate risk state co-ordinator David McRae said LDCs were made up of primary producers and representatives from industry organisations in the local area.
"LDCs make a recommendation to declare an area on a number of criteria, including if there is a rainfall deficiency in the last 12 months that is likely to occur no more than once every 10 years," Mr McRae said.
"Other criteria, such as pasture and water availability, frequency of supplementary feeding, and the condition of stock are also considered.
"The local LDC recommended revocation for the Southern Downs effective as of 19 April 2017 based on the seasonal conditions at the end of the wet season.
"Given the existing conditions in the Southern Downs region, the area would not meet the criteria for drought declaration."