Biosecurity delays blamed for Tasmanian stock feed shortage as farmers struggle with drought conditionsMonday January 18, 2016 - 08:33 EDT
Plans to help farmers cope with dwindling feed supplies will be unveiled by the Tasmanian Government amid concerns there are not enough biosecurity staff to check imports from interstate.
On Sunday, Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced a after the driest spring on record.
The Federal Government's drought concessional loan scheme allows farmers to borrow up to 50 per cent of eligible debt, up to $1 million.
The scheme kicks in next month but that is not soon enough for southern Tasmanian farmer Simon Cooper, who is struggling to feed his beef cattle.
He said he would not be able to feed his livestock by the end of this week.
"I can't keep them after Friday, they've really got nothing to eat here," he said.
"I can't access any hay in the state that's viable."
Mr Cooper sourced 2,000 bales of hay from Victoria but was told it would take between 4 and 16 weeks for biosecurity to allow them into the state.
He said that was too long to wait.
"As that time goes on, the mainland gets drier, as well their price of fodder and hay goes up therefore we're going to be left holding the can with virtually no hay in the state."
Fodder imports prioritised: Minister
Opposition primary industries spokeswoman Rebecca White said the delay was unacceptable.
"My understanding is that staff in Biosecurity [Tasmania] are doing the best that they can but they simply don't have enough people working to be able to deal with these applications in a timely manner and we need them to be able to do that," she said.
"It's becoming quite an urgent situation".
Mr Rockliff said he was not aware of the biosecurity delay, adding the Opposition's claims about staffing were wrong.
"In fact, we are investing an additional $4 million into biosecurity," he said.
"We know that there will be an increased need for importing feed and we will do everything we can to work with farmers to process their applications for hay imports as quickly as possible."
Mr Rockliff said fodder risk assessments were being prioritised and most should be processed within days.
But he said feed from the mainland must not pose a biosecurity risk.
Mr Cooper said no-one wanted threats to Tasmania's flora and fauna introduced into the state.
"But it's to the stage now that the process needs to be done and done swiftly," he said.
Mr Cooper said the problem was only getting worse.
"There is talk that dairy farmers are going to import some palm kernel from Indonesia so we're talking about importing stuff like that from Indonesia, let alone getting hay in from Victoria," he said.
Mr Rockliff said the Government was aware of the problem with a lack of feed and would announce a plan to help farmers through the crisis.
© ABC 2016
More breaking news
A tropical low off north Queensland has a high chance of developing into a cyclone and making landfall by early next week, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says.
Queensland may see its first tropical cyclone in two years in coming days, although the situation is still hard to call.
It runs one of the most-viewed websites in Australia and broadcasts its weather forecasts and warnings around the country each day.