Col Brooks at his farm near Murwillumbah.
Col Brooks at his farm near Murwillumbah.

Grazier warns cattle to be sold as food and rain dry up

GRAZIER Colin Brooks will be forced to sell many cattle for slaughter at a rock-bottom price because of drought in the Tweed.

The Tweed Valley's emerald green grasses may look inviting, but below that deceptive surface lies a problem for our struggling farmers.

A "green drought" has swept across the region, meaning graziers are struggling to find enough feed to keep cattle healthy.

Farmers in other rural industries are also doing it tough, supplementing their shrinking income with crops such as sorghum to feed animals and eke out minimal profit.

Mr Brooks, the Combined Tweed Rural Industries Association president, said farming in the valley was currently "a great way to go broke".

"The lack of rain is really affecting us badly and getting enough water is becoming a major problem," he said.

"Most of the smaller creeks are completely dry and I would say that every rural industry in the Tweed is suffering.

"It's very deceiving too because the 3mm and 5mm we've had here or there has been just enough to keep the green in the grass."

"The question is, are you going to get rid of cattle now for a very depressed price or do you keep them and run out of feed in winter," he said.

"But the problem is abattoir prices are dropping because most NSW farmers are facing drought and having trouble.

"Cattle prices are already low and what we need is strong exports and a low Australian dollar to get anywhere."

Cane, soybean and banana farmers are just some of the Tweed industries reeling from what is on track to be the driest February on record.

Mr Brooks, 67, drives buses to accompany his farm work and says he won't be retiring any time soon because of the current bleak outlook for farming.

He said there was no light at the end of the tunnel for now, with long range forecasts showing a low amount of incoming rain.

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