New-age fodder to help farmers in drought

SUGAR cane and molasses-based liquid supplements could be the answer to helping drought-stricken farmers on the land, according to Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.

The Katter’s Australian Party MP is urging Federal and State governments to purchase emergency supplies of liquid supplements and sugar cane to replace dwindling supplies of hay, cotton seed and other supplements which are quickly being exhausted on farms.

“There’s no doubt we’ve got a crisis on our hands with 98 per cent of New South Wales and almost two thirds of Queensland in drought right now,” Mr Dametto said.

“Molasses-based liquid supplements and sugar cane could be bought by State and Federal governments and immediately sent to the hardest hit areas of the drought.

“We need to do everything we can to keep those cattle alive and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers.”

Mr Dametto said he and party colleagues Traeger MP Robbie Katter and Hill MP Shane Knuth had been in discussions with several industry bodies and fodder suppliers to look at alternative options.

“I urge both Federal and State governments to invest in these products which will not only give hope to drought affected farms but potentially create new industries in fodder production,” he said.

Last Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a $190 million Farm Household Allowance scheme, providing lump sum payments of up to $12,000 for drought-affected households.

On Thursday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk launched the Queensland Drought Appeal with a $100,000 donation, which was followed by a $100,000 donation by energy company Shell, a figure that could grow by a further $50,000 based on contributions from Shell employees.

LiquaForce Australia managing director Cameron Liddle said his Ingham-based company had been producing molasses-based liquid supplements for half a decade.

“We have been producing cattle feed for the last five years and have developed a strong customer base from Charters Towers as far as Cloncurry and even up in the Gulf near Normanton,” he said.

“These products are valuable tool in supplementing malnourished cattle, they are safe and they work full stop.”

Mr Liddle said his “Cattliq” products were a “complete nutrient supplement including urea, salt, phosphorus and molasses as a rich energy source”.

“We also add a synthetic protein that stimulates the biology in the rumen, an antioxidant and a vitamin mineral supplement. It has advantages in all stages of grazing.”

Co-chairman of the Pioneer Cane Growers Organisation in North Queensland Dean Sgroi said his family business had supplied cane as fodder to graziers in the past.

“Cattle eat it, there’s no problem with that,’’ he said.

“I think the last time I sold some of our family’s crop to struggling graziers was in 2015.

“It is reasonably palatable for cattle and when you compare it to hay you can probably get a lot more sugar cane tonnage onto a semi trainer. It will keep cattle alive, especially once they get a taste for it.

“The biggest stumbling block will be getting around the fact cane growers have most of their farms already contracted to their miller and it will be at the miller’s discretion to allow growers to get out of those contracts so they can help out the graziers.’’

Mr Dametto said supplying graziers with cane may also provide a boost for struggling growers.

“There may need to be consideration given to permits and bio security protocols but I believe those issues can be overcome if there is enough goodwill,’’ he said.

Nick Dametto MP