Cotton, beef may be among big winners as dry spell is drowned
DESPITE initial fears of devastation, floodwaters may help Queensland's largest agricultural industries - ranging from cotton to beef - over the long term by breaking a six-month dry spell.
However, many farmers had not yet inspected their property because they were still flooded on Monday.
A spokeswoman from the NSW Department of Primary Industries said it was still too early to provide any information on the impact of storms on primary industries.
The chief executive of Cotton Australia, Adam Kay, said there were no initial reports of damage to cotton fields even though the crop is primarily grown in the storm-affected areas.
"Generally the rain is good news up in the Darling Downs," he said. "They have had 100 millimetres in areas and generally that was really welcome ... The cotton crops in the south-east of Queensland and north-west NSW are boll-filling and it has been a pretty hot dry summer so this [rain] has certainly replenished the soil moisture in most areas."
The boll on plants will open into balls of cotton fibres in late February, he explained.
"We feel for the people - there are going to be other rural producers affected by flooding and the like. [But] generally across the cotton areas this has been of use rather than of hindrance."
The chairman of the Australian Beef Association, Brad Bellinger, said the downpour could push beef prices up from a three-year low.
"With this rain, hopefully it will grow a lot more grass and producers will have the opportunity to hold back their livestock and it should lift prices," he said, adding there were no reports of large amounts of stock losses by Monday evening.
Cattle on flat inland regions were spared from the worst flooding because the heaviest rain fell on coastal regions, he said.
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Queensland, John McVeigh, said he would meet industry bodies on Tuesday and the State Disaster Management Group would decide whether to give financial assistance once damage is properly assessed.
"The Newman Government is ready to assist primary producers but right now many of the impacts are not yet clear as flood peaks have not occurred in some regions and many primary producers are dealing with the emerging situations and understandably are too busy to answer phones," he said.
The head of the sugar cane farmer body Canegrowers, Steve Greenwood, said it was unclear if this year's sugar crops were damaged.
"Damage will depend on how quickly floodwaters recede and the sun comes out - and until that happens it is too early for the industry to make loss estimates," he said.
Wheat, barley and canola were harvested in recent months and new crops had not been sown yet, an AWB spokesman said.