The Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF) is still assessing the true damage to the state's agriculture industries from what is now the third major flood in two years for many farmers.
However for some farmers not directly in the path of floodwaters or extreme rainfall, the storms have broken an intense period of unseasonal drought. But even they are impacted by damage to road and telecommunications infrastructure.
The federation and its member industries have confirmed that rainfall from ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald has produced flooding comparable to both late 2010 and early 2011.
A QFF spokesman said this placed "serious and significant financial and emotional strain on many farmers, and government support will be required to assist in many instances". In the horticultural sector, QFF is already estimating losses of more than $100 million.
QFF members have reported varying impacts between regions and industries, but generally farms in the path of the flood have faced serious damage to crops and livestock as well as agribusiness and personal infrastructure.
The impact was worsened by the fact that the intense rain and wind squalls followed an unseasonal dry spell from which farmers were desperate for relief. In fact, parts of Queensland are still badly in need of rain.
On a positive note, some farmers not directly under the very high rainfall bands of more than 150mm are now reportedly in a more reasonable production position than they were earlier in the month.
In regions of high rainfall and swollen creeks and rivers, there have been major impacts on crops and livestock - in fact just about all major coastal rivers and catchments along the coast from Central Queensland (Rockhampton and Gladstone), south to the border fall into this category.
Farming regions adjacent inland have also been badly affected, including major horticultural and cotton producing regions.
Some intensive animal industries including piggeries and dairies have been cut off and remain isolated by floodwaters. Industry is working to resolve these high risk cases as quickly as possible.
It has been estimated the impact on the horticulture industry could be as high as $100 million.
Major transport disruptions along the Bruce Highway and telecommunications shortages have also caused significant problems for the industry, even for those who experienced lesser direct on farm impacts.
Severe losses have been incurred around the major horticultural region of Bundaberg, and upstream on the Burnett River at the citrus production region at Gayndah and Mundubbera.
The cotton industry has suffered serious damage in some regions, with further flooding yet to come as the flood peak makes its way down the Condamine River.
This peak has already caused major damage on the Darling Downs and is currently comparable to the flood heights of 2010/2011 in places.
The extent of damage to these crops will only become apparent a day or two after the water makes its way down the river and then recedes.
In Central Queensland, the Biloela region has suffered major crop and infrastructure damage on the back of a significant loss in the 2010/2011 floods.
Growers near Murgon have suffered major losses also along with previous flood losses and yield and quality issues last season with rainfall.
There are also reports of some significant damage in the Border Rivers area, particularly from flooding from the Weir River.
With a wide geographic distribution, the cane industry has suffered varying amounts of damage along the coast. It has been hit with flooding in major growing regions, with particularly acute flooding around Bundaberg and Maryborough and the surrounding mill areas.
The full extent of the losses are being assessed and will be known more accurately as the floodwaters recede. Torrential flood waters have caused major damage to infrastructure and crops, and recently planted crops are particularly vulnerable to losses from flooding.
A number of dairies have lost electricity and road access, creating difficulties milking cows. Properties that have been without road access or faced other issues have been forced to discard milk.
Some farms could still face isolation and electricity issues into next week. Infrastructure has been damaged and farms will be facing significant losses. It is estimated that about 50 percent of the Queensland industry is impacted, at a cost of about $40 million.
John Coward of Pork Queensland and also Australia Pork Limited and QFF have been assisting the pork industry with the response.
Mr Coward said about 50 percent of the Queensland pork industry has been impacted. Two piggeries have been severely impacted, with many others facing infrastructure, transport, power and water issues.
One major piggery at Mundubbera lost about 200 sows and approximately 2500 weaner pigs and a second property lost about 95 percent of their herd, with only 12 sows out of 200 remaining and 180 grower pigs out of 2500.
Production nurseries have been impacted on by this extraordinary weather from Gladstone to the Tweed River including areas in the Burnett, Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba and Granite Belt regions with complete inundation of businesses occurring in Bundaberg and along the Logan/Albert River systems.
The cost of this event is being felt by industry in crop, infrastructure and equipment damage and losses, inaccessible markets and/or lost markets, staff retention costs and in the general clean-up, all contributing to significant pressures on cash flow and business viability.
Nursery and Garden Industry Queensland (NGIQ) estimates the cost of this event will run to the many millions of dollars as industry starts to recover.
Many farms in the path of the flood have faced direct infrastructure or household damage or both.
Category B disaster assistance under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) was enacted for a number of local government areas. This scheme offers concessional loans and freight subsidies for primary producers and small businesses.
Given the extent of the disaster, industries are also working with the government to enact Category C measures, as was the case with the previous flood of 2010/2011. Agriculture Minister John McVeigh said he was looking at Category C measures for the worst-affected shires.
Category B assistance is now in place for:
- Banana Shire Council
- Brisbane City Council
- Bundaberg Regional Council
- Fraser Coast Regional Council
- Gladstone Regional Council
- Gold Coast City Council
- Gympie Regional Council
- Ipswich Regional Council
- Lockyer Valley Regional Council
- Logan City Council
- Moreton Bay Regional Council
- North Burnett Regional Council
- Redland City Council
- Rockhampton Regional Council
- Scenic Rim Regional Council
- Somerset Regional Council
- South Burnett Regional Council
- Southern Downs Regional Council
- Sunshine Coast Regional Council
- Toowoomba Regional Council
- Western Downs Regional Council.
Mr McVeigh said he may seek to extend assistance to other shires as the full picture of the flood damage emerged.
Farmers seeking assistance:http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/ or call 132 523.