Corbett and Beris Tritton used a North Queensland Restocking, Replanting and On-farm Infrastructure co-contribution grant to aid their recovery following the North and Far North Queensland Monsoon Trough.
Disaster a shared challenge among North West graziers
Graziers in North West Queensland run a diverse and unique range of businesses but share the same challenges following the monsoon trough event in February.
Richmond graziers Corbett and Beris Tritton were among hundreds of primary producers to lose cattle, infrastructure and assets during the disaster but their ability to get back to business quickly, along with many others, has been a resounding benefit to the region and the industry.
“Everyone is in a different situation financially, but we are all in the one predicament in terms of the flood,” Corbett said.
The Trittons lost more than 2,300 head of cattle and suffered damage to assets and infrastructure after flood water and treacherous conditions swept their property.
They estimate their total damage bill topped $4 million.
Corbett and Beris acted quickly to restore what were left of their assets and get back to business.
They were able to access a Restocking, Replanting and On-farm Infrastructure co-contribution grant, administered through the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) on behalf of the Australian Government, to help replace the lost livestock and recover long-term.
“The monsoon event was pretty exceptional in that we were already in drought, so the cattle were already poor, especially the younger cattle,” Corbett said.
“It’s quite emotional really, to land in Richmond and see people with mud up to their waists. We flew out here and started flinging hay to save what we could.
“We do droughts, we do floods, but we don’t do this. We can handle the drought year after year but not when there is a big hit like this. It’s so sad to see.
“When you endure the drought for so long and that kind of event happens, it’s pretty hard on people because they’re at the end of their tether already. In saying that they’re a tough bunch and rallied behind each other.”
Beris and Corbett used the grant funding to restock cattle and restore cash flow as quickly as possible.
“A lot of information came out about the assistance and there were services there to back it up,” Corbett said.
“We had to buy the cattle regardless of any funding to exist and keep running, it’s what we do here.
“If you sit on your hands it doesn’t happen. I understand if people didn’t act because it was such a big, shocking thing but we jumped in and bought some cattle.”
While the Trittons were able to utilise the grant funding immediately, they said the ability for applicants to draw down the funds when seasons and markets permitted was beneficial to the region and the industry.
“It’s very good, terrific, especially when the hype goes out of the cattle market and they can sneak in and buy some cattle at a better price,” Corbett said.
“Any form of assistance is helpful but if they can take this grant up as it suits them, even little bits at a time, then it will give them what they need to handle more adversity or to better handle what they have been through.
“How others choose to take it up, is up to them. I would certainly encourage them to look at it, because it does help.”
Beris said she was able to access assistance direct from QRIDA as well as other support services.
“Once I knew what I was doing, I was set. I had conversations with the QRIDA team in Toowoomba and I was into it. They were really helpful, it took a phone call, I sent my spreadsheet out and off we went,” she said.
“It all starts off quite daunting but it is doable and very much worth doing. I’ve suggested to a few people to apply and explained it’s not as hard as they might think.
“We wanted to get our cattle numbers back as soon as we could and took advantage of the grant to do that.”
Rural Queensland to recover
Corbett said support distributed to the North West following the disaster event was an indication to flood affected graziers there was help available and the nation depended on them to move forward.
“There’s a sentiment in the bush people don’t want to apply for assistance, but not every day do you get an event like this either,” he said.
“We felt the grant was necessary for us to survive. It was a big hit and it was for a lot of people.”
Corbett said the grant allowed producers to access funds when they were ready to restock.
“The beauty is there is time to apply and people can access the grant when they are ready and willing. Some people fixed their own fences, buried their own cattle and needed to have their mind in the right place before they could do anything,” he said.
He said the wide-spread impact of the disaster made it especially important for other primary producers to access the Restocking, Replanting and On-farm Infrastructure co-contribution grant.
“They need to access the grant because Australia needs viable producers. If it makes producers more viable, it’s important it’s taken up,” he said.
“You normally struggle to make any profit anyway, especially in the drought years, so any assistance to get people back on track was very much appreciated.”
“Resilience means to handle the future.
“People are constantly thinking about how they can better prepare themselves for adverse financial situations that are going to be presented. This grant helps them get to the point where they can make those decisions.”
Five children come home to the farm
At Christmas time, the Tritton homestead at Silver Hills, near Richmond, more than doubles.
Sisters Adelaide, 17, Isabella, 15 and Natalie, 13 come home from boarding school in Townsville and together with Elliott, 11 and Felicity, 18, the five siblings make light work of jobs on the family cattle property.
Corbett and Beris run eight neighbouring properties north of Richmond bordering the Flinders River, and a ninth also in the North West, with Silver Hills their home block.
“We run beef cattle and raise our beautiful children,” Corbett said.
Corbett grew up on the property with his parents and returned after spending time away earthmoving.
“I bought the place and we have since bought some neighbouring properties to build it up a bit. We have tried to vertically integrate the industry and guarantee our sales. It’s all very good until you get an extreme weather event,” he said.
“We try to take the wobble out of the season but droughts still affect us immensely.
We do what we do to secure our sales.
“This is pretty much all I know, I like to bring my family up the way I was brought up. I just wanted to do that and try and take some adversity out of it by what we have done with the business. It’s still a journey.”
North Queensland Restocking, Replanting and On-Farm Infrastructure co-contribution grants of up to $400,000 are available for primary producers to restock, replant and repair after flooding.
For more information visit the North Queensland Restocking, Replanting and On-farm Infrastructure Grant page.
QRIDA administers North Queensland Restocking, Replanting and On-Farm Infrastructure co-contribution grants on behalf of the Australian Government.