Queensland cattle industry applauds $6M investment in ‘grass cancer’ cure

Queensland cattle industry applauds $6M investment in ‘grass cancer’ cure
Saturday, 23 Mar 2019

The Queensland beef industry has applauded a $6 million investment by the Federal Government and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to develop a solution to pasture dieback, a ‘grass cancer’ which could cause $1.3 billion worth of damage to an industry already on its knees after a summer of devastation.

AgForce welcomed the game-changing funding commitment by the Federal Government, the direct result of its work with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, and called on the Queensland Government to step up and contribute its fair share to an industry that contributes billions of dollars to the State economy.

AgForce’s Central Queensland Regional President John Baker said the little understood ‘cancer of grass’ caused otherwise excellent pastures to suddenly and mysteriously die, starving cattle of food and allowing weeds and pest plant species to thrive.

“Over the last two years, 200,000 hectares of improved pasture grasses, with the potential to support 50,000 head cattle worth around $60 million, have just gone brown and keeled over,” John said.

“Pasture dieback is a poorly understood condition that causes weak growth and death of ordinarily very productive pastures.

“If no solution is found, we estimate that 4.4 million hectares, an area that would normally support over a million cattle, could become affected, leaving a $1.3 billion hole in the national economy.

“It is imperative that we find a solution and we need all levels of Government to contribute, and that is why we are calling on the Queensland Government to contribute the $3 million AgForce requested of them.

“Even though it’s being called the ‘green drought’, pasture dieback is worse than drought: once pasture is dead, all that comes back is weeds.

“Cattle avoid eating the dead grass and graziers have to either buy fodder in, pay to agist stricken cattle elsewhere, or simply sell their livestock.

“Affected areas are at a high risk of erosion, with dire consequences for the water quality and health of the Great Barrier Reef. Producers are desperate for management solutions.”

MLA has already spent $1million in trying to find the cause of pasture dieback and recently hosted a working group of producers and researchers to prioritise research needs.

“Unfortunately, the Queensland Government, which has so much to lose if the problem is not solved, has been MIA on the issue,” Mr Baker said.

“Thankfully, the Australian Government and the MLA have recognised the implications of pasture dieback and are committed to a solution – a great example of government and industry working together to solve a problem.”

ends

Media Contact: David Vogler:  0418 733 102

Queensland cattle industry applauds $6M investment in ‘grass cancer’ cure

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