A crisis meeting of North Queensland graziers has urged the Federal Government to break the trading impasse with Indonesia over live exports with a foreign aid food package.

Issues involving live exports were today debated at a cattle industry summit at Richmond in north-west Queensland.

Many said they are still feeling the impact from the ban, which has been heightened by the current drought and a downturn in the market.

Rural and regional reporter Peter Lewis met with graziers in the region, and filed this report:

The Curley Family is hand feeding calves that normally would be  nibbling fresh green pick on their property just north of Cloncurry .

This autumn the sparse Mitchell grass stubble crunches under foot .

The Brahman cows are struggling to suckle their youngsters since a lack of nutrition in the available feed means they will soon be as dry as last wet season in Queensland's north and west .

Jacqueline Curley says weaning the calves much earlier than they normally would gives both them and their mothers a fighting chance through winter.

She and her family run 6,000 Brahman cattle on Gipsy Plains and two adjoining properties 60 kilometres north of Cloncurry - or more precisely, they did.

They have found greener pastures for some of the cattle further south as the movement of hungry stock in the worst affected areas steadily turns into a stampede.

Thirteen shires or one-third of Queensland is now officially drought declared, which means the engine room of the Australian beef industry is spluttering.

Queensland accounts for 40 per cent of the national herd.

The cruel reality for tens of thousands of cattle across the state's north and west is that they are simply not worth the cost of trucking to market.

This leaves graziers with the heartbreaking task of cutting their losses by shooting them.

Mt Isa parish priest Father Mick Lowcock has been keeping a weather eye on cattle prices and his flock.

He says there is no more shattering experience for a primary producer to have to destroy a herd that may have taken years to build up.

And pastoral care was high on the agenda of the cattle crisis summit in Richmond.

Queensland's Agriculture Minister John McVeigh says so far he has been impressed by the resolve of communities doing it tough.

He says they need a hand up, not a hand out.

At the meeting it was suggested the Australian Government buy up 100,000 head of cattle now eating their way out of house and home and donate them to Indonesia as an aid package.

Local grazier and summit organiser Barry Hughes says that way it would be beneficial not only to the northern beef industry and the Indonesian people - but a Federal Government which, he says, made a massive blunder two years ago by suspending the live cattle trade to the industry's most important market.

The man responsible of that decision, Federal Agriculture Minister Senator Joe Ludwig, would not comment on whether that idea would get traction in Canberra, other than to say he was interested in the whole range of suggestions he has received from beef producers and their representatives.

 

Advertisement