Drought starts to bite at the checkout
THE COST of everyday grocery items could rise unless rain breaks the debilitating drought that has the Darling Downs in its grip.
Grain and cattle, fruit and vegetable producers have all spoken about the devastating impact of months without decent rain.
And the short-range forecast doesn't bode well for drought-breaking rain.
Cecil Plains farmer Graham Clapham said the drought was really hurting his farm.
He said apart from 26mm in August there hadn't been any rains of consequence.
Mr Clapham used irrigation water to establish a wheat crop in June.
A subsequent lack of rain had chewed into his available reserves for his summer cropping program.
"We're firmly in the planting window for summer cereal crops and cotton," Mr Clapham said.
He said farmers in the region were getting desperate.
"It was a very poor cropping outcome last summer and there were not many opportunities over winter," he said.
Bongeen grain and cotton farmer Kerry Connolly said the drought was history repeating itself.
His farm is relying on 200 mega-litres of water in dams filled by overland flow.
"When that runs out we'll have to hope for the Good Lord to send us some rain."
He said farmers were gamblers.
"The weather forecast is only 50/50. If we took notice of the long-term weather forecast we wouldn't plant anything.
"Some farmers never got a summer crop last year and if this doesn't turn around it's going to have huge implications as to where the banks will be sitting.
"You can't keep pouring money into a hole and getting nothing out it."
Kingsthorpe dairy farmer Natalie Crank said the drought crept up on farmers.
"Our cattle are on mixed rations because we can't grow enough feed on the land," she said.
"We buy the best grain for our milkers and everything else is fed off the farm."
She said her last load of grain had come from more than 1000kms away and she knew farmers nearby who were forced to import hay from South Australia.
"Normally you get pockets which are good but it's dry everywhere. Everyone has offloaded stock and the prices have increased a little bit for livestock now but you really needed to decrease stock a long time ago," she said.