Livestock assistance money 'out of reach for mums and dads'
WHILE domestic drinking water has been the priority of Southern Downs Regional Council, farmers who fear for the welfare of livestock say they have been "handballed" between governments who refuse to take responsibility for animals.
In a media conference last week, Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie expressed her commitment to providing drinking water to rural residents until May, when the council's extreme-level restrictions would be reviewed.
But where to get water for livestock is a question that has remained unanswered as farmers say they are unable to source agricultural water from within the Southern Downs.
Some have looked as far as Toowoomba with no success.
Federal Agriculture Minister and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud said animal welfare was the State Government's responsibility.
"The Federal Government's responsibility in drought is human welfare," Mr Littleproud said.
"Farm Household Assistance payments of up to $37,000 are already available for farmers in the Southern Downs to help pay for household costs."
While some have accessed the FHA easily, Junabee farmer Brent Hoffman said the forms were "a nightmare" and the FHA didn't solve the livestock water problem.
When pressed on the issue, Southern Downs MP James Lister slammed the State Government's Emergency Water Infrastructure scheme.
"I have asked the state minister to show some flexibility about this without success," he said. "Eligibility criteria are highly restrictive, there is a requirement for up-front funding by applicants.
"The program has a controversial record of denying claims for what appear to be eligible works. The program is out of the reach of mums and dads with a few head of cattle and some horses."
Mr Lister said he has been working with Granite Belt locals to set up a free livestock water delivery service but did not provide further details.