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Flood-hit farmer reflects on 'major loss'

By Bruce Atkinson, Monday March 18, 2013 - 12:12 EDT

Many primary producers west of Gympie are wondering if they will be able to keep their farms, with no income after three floods in less than two months.

Farmers and graziers near Tansey and Booubyjan were hit by a major flood on Australia Day, again two weeks later and a third time earlier this month.

Dean Rockemer's lucerne crop has been destroyed and top soil, fences and irrigation equipment washed away.

It is so wet he is only now assessing all the damage and Mr Rockemer says it will be a struggle to survive.

"Everything's on the cards ... if the next six, eight, 12, 18 months don't go with us ... we'll be probably looking to sell something," he said.

"We'll have no other option.

"If things turn around and the weather goes with us we're probably back on the road and giving it another go but it's a bloody long way and yes nothing but hard work for the next 12, 18 months."

He says it will take five years to rebuild.

"Phenomenal, [a] major loss you know," he said.

"People talk about, 'oh you'll catch up' but what's gone in the past you don't ever catch up. You can just start off and have another crack at it and see how we go ... we've got a lot of debt and the bank understands the situation we're in.

"We've been communicating back and forwards but we've got some hard roads out in front of us ... and we'll just see how things pan out."

'Like climbing Everest'

Just down the road, Richard Pennell was about to convert his cattle property into an organic beef farm before the flooding hit.

His irrigation equipment has been destroyed, cattle washed away and he is facing a stressful and uncertain future.

"It's an important time for me, for my family ... I think this flood takes away my focus towards them ... important growing years for them," he said.

"We've lost a lot of capital ... $265,000.

"It's years of our life and the future of our farm too where it's heading.

"I wanted it to go towards organic beef production but ... that seems like it might slip away from us. I'm hoping it doesn't."

Mr Pennell is unsure if he will proceed with those plans without a cash flow.

"Trying to get back to where we were," he said.

"Of course cash is hard. We've got plans. As I said I've got a young family and we want to do things ... it's a time in their life that they'll always reflect on.

"We want to make this the best time of their life.

"This is like climbing Everest isn't it? ... It's a dream that you have and you go for it but whether it stacks up economically, well it probably doesn't."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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