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HISTORY: More than 87% of Queensland is in drought

QUEENSLAND has never been so dry.

The Sunshine State has lived up to its moniker too well, as historically low rainfall has led to an unprecedented situation for Queensland's primary producers.

The decision to declare seven regions - Fraser Coast, North Burnett, South Burnett, Cherbourg, Gympie, Somerset and the remainder of Banana - as officially in drought is not one Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne would have made lightly, but it is a decision some say was overdue for some parts of the state.

Mr Byrne's decision, which is based on the recommendations of Local Drought Committees (LDC), means 87.47% of the state is drought-declared.

"That is the highest ever and I am still waiting for some committees to send me their recommendations," Mr Byrne said.

"I have been advised that while some parts of the South East Queensland have received some patchy storm rainfall over the summer season, good general rainfall across the whole region has not been received."

In a statement released Saturday, Mr Byrne mentioned the Fraser Coast, which has had the lowest rainfall in its recorded history over the the past 12 months, Gympie, where producers "are already feeding hay for roughage", and Biloela, where there "were no summer dryland crops this year".

The Fraser Coast, in which parts sweltered through its hottest March day on record last week, experienced its driest February this year.

Fraser Coast Regional Council has concessions for producers, which allows them to defer rates without incurring interest.

It was introduced by Cr James Hansen in 2014, and followed the lead of Gympie Regional Council.

The decision to add these seven regions to the state's list of drought-declared regions comes a week after Bundaberg received drought status.

Deputy Mayor Faye Whelan said it was great news the North Burnett Regional Council area.

"We have been way below our rainfall average," Cr Whelan said.

Drought declaration means producers can access DRAS fodder and water freight subsidies and emergency water infrastructure rebates, as well as access to other programs in the Queensland Drought Assistance Package if they are eligible.

Mr Byrne's statement said it included relief from electricity charges, land rent rebates and water licence waivers as well as access to a number of community and mental health programs.

The threshold for a drought declaration is generally a once in 10 to 15 year rainfall deficiency.

But given so much of Queensland is now drought-declared, from where will the relief come?

According to Bureau of Meteorology forecasts, Thursday shapes as the most likely time Queensland's coast will receive rain.

It's not much.

Forecasts of up to 15mm in Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Gympie, and 20mm in Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast on Thursday are predicted, while Gayndah, Kingaroy, Hervey Bay, Gympie and the Sunshine Coast could receive similar rainfall on Friday.

It is the only real rainfall forecast for the near future, and while it's gladly accepted the state as much more as it can get.

Topics:  drought editors picks fcdrought fcweather weather


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