Farmers face bleak winter

MANY farming families in the Central Highlands are facing a bleak winter this year, as a prolonged dry spell continues to impact harshly on the region.

AgForce Central Queensland chairman Christine Donaldson said cattle were proving to be a more feasible option than grain production in the face of the drought.

"It's a very serious situation but people are handling it better than the drought in the '90s be- cause cattle prices are good,'' Mrs Donaldson said.

"Grain growers are finding it more difficult because grass will grow with rain but a crop needs the right amount of rain at the right time.''

With the long range forecast described as not good, Mrs Donaldson said the prospects of a successful season of winter wheat or chickpeas was nil should the no-rain period continue. She said current summer crops would also stand to benefit from rain.

"People are harvesting and the mungbean, sorghum, sunflower and corn crops need moisture for the grains to fill out,'' she said.

AgForce Emerald rural finance counsellor Kate Scott said there was continuing demand for their services.

"We've had a steady use of the financial service, there's always a need for it but people seem to be looking at new ways of bringing in money,'' Ms Scott said.



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