Dry times: Massie landholder Bill Bowen.
Dry times: Massie landholder Bill Bowen.

Farmers say still dry after rain

MASSIE farmer Bill Bowen has 51 years of rainfall records if he needs to back up his verdict “It’s dry”.

Alternatively he could simply walk through the 160ha of black soil cultivation below his house, where moisture levels are too low for planting.

“As I see it the area west and north of Warwick has really missed out on good rainfall, while to the east the season is looking very promising,” Mr Bowen said.

Official rainfall records on his property offer real data about recent seasons: 2009 was the third driest year in half a century.

“We measured 442.2mm last year, the only years drier were 2000 and 2002,” MrBowen said.

“Over the 51 years that rainfall for the Bureau of Meteorology has been measured on this property our mean is 671.7mm.

“Well we were a long way off that last year.”

But Mr Bowen remains optimistic.

“It’ll come our way one day; rain will fill in the dry gaps. Just going on my records we’re overdue for some wet weather,” he said.

While the producer acknowledges he can’t control the rain gods, he has done what he can to improve his situation.

“In December I successfully applied for an individual droughted property (IDP) status,” Mr Bowen said.

“It is a lot of paperwork for no real return, but it may highlight to authorities what the situation on the ground is really like.”

It is a step other producers in similar situations across the Southern Downs are being urged to take.

Southern Downs regional councillor Ross Bartley is one of a five-strong grassroots-elected producer panel taking the region’s plight to State Government.

With Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin scheduled to reassess the local drought situation in early April, Mr Bartley has urged affected producers to apply for IDPs.

“A lot of places still haven’t received enough rain for winter planting, stock feed or to fill dams,” Mr Bartley said.

The fact our region’s drought status was lifted 12 months ago on the advice of the Local Drought Committee continues to irk outspoken landholder and panel member Michael Willett.

Mr Willett has repeatedly called for Minister Tim Mulherin to investigate whether the LDC accurately represented our region.

Mr Mulherin was unavailable for comment yesterday, but the QDPI&F confirmed Queensland’s drought situation would be reassessed in April.

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