A grazier crisis summit at Richmond(Qld) this Tuesday is tipped to draw a crowd of 1000 to address federal and state government ministers in calling for urgent intervention to save a lifeblood North-West Qld industry, said KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter.
A steering committee comprised of graziers and mayors of the stricken regions had been working around the clock to prepare a compelling case to present to the Australian and Queensland agriculture ministers, said Mr Katter, who first brought the nations attention to the escalating crisis at a rally near Richmond in late 2011 attended by hundreds including some of the states biggest cattle producers.
These cases will cover the issues that are driving the complete collapse of our cattle industry, said Mr Katter.
Queensland cattlemen and women have been hit hard by the high Australian dollar, the rapidly diminishing live export market, disease, harsh weather conditions, and a plunge in property values combined with questionable banking practises.
One third of the state is drought-declared, while rural debt per farm has increased from an average of $700,000 two years ago to $1.4m at present.
Cattle stations have been destroyed from fires and there are 100,000 head of cattle in QLD ready for sale with no-body to sell them to.
Graziers are being forced to the point of shooting their cattle after watching their suffering stock starve.
Mr Katter said the industry; a lifeblood of communities across Australias sparsely populated north, would cease to exist in a matter of years unless governments intervened as a matter of urgency.
Since just January this year, we have been called to attend several rural crisis meetings across the country, he said.
In the past two weeks alone we attended the Agriculture in Crisis meeting in Merredin in Western Australia, which had over 1000 people attend, and in Colac in Victoria we attended a dairy crisis meeting where hundreds of people attended.
The people that are attending these crisis meetings are concerned about the same things that grain in Western Australia, milk in Victoria and cattle in Queensland are all dying Australian agricultural industries because of issues such as high interest rates, the high Australian dollar, ongoing harsh weather conditions and property value plunges combined with questionable lending practices.
In particular, graziers in Queensland are faced with the added burden of dwindling live export markets and when combined with the other issues has caused a surplus of cattle on the market and a decrease in cattle prices not seen since the 80s.
The North-West Grazier Crisis Summit is a platform being driven to ignite change. It will unveil the harsh reality of the industry to Australia while the graziers have a chance to say their bit to the Federal and State Ministers for Agriculture and other influential government personnel.
It will be an opportunity for graziers to voice their desperate circumstances and the solutions they need to survive, Mr Katter concluded.
Tuesdays summit follows a rural debt roundtable hosted by the Federal Government late last year after a Question Time plea by Mr Katter; which resulted in last months subsequent announcement of a nationwide $420m assistance package for agricultural businesses.