500,000 Australian cattle survived years-long drought only to die in flood

After seven years of drought, elated cattle farmers in the Australian state of Queensland welcomed the rainstorms heading their way as a blessing.

But now, after one of the most devastating deluges in state history, a billion-dollar industry could be left in tatters.

Authorities estimate that nearly 500,000 cattle — worth about $213 million (AU$300 million) — have been killed by flooding in Queensland’s north since the rain began falling late last month, CNN affiliate Seven News reported.

The downpours have ended but the cattle carcasses remain, baking in the record-breaking summer heat. If not buried or burned, they will pose a health hazard. Video taken from overhead at one location shows scores of dead cattle huddled together amid the devastation.

“People have gone through drought, they have come out of years and years of drought, and they have now gone smack-bang into a natural disaster the likes of which no one out there has seen before,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

But cattle farmers and industry lobbyists say the worst could be yet to come.

One of the farmers affected, Rachel Anderson, says she lost an estimated 2,000 cattle in the floods and more are still dying from pneumonia from the cold rain and wind.

“Some cattle are still quite weak from enduring the many days of rain and not able to access feed,” Anderson, who has five children and owns a farm at Eddington Station near Julia Creek in western Queensland, told CNN.

Anderson said her family was already in a lot of debt from hand feeding cattle during the long drought. Now, the devastating floods is putting even more strain on the household.

“We can’t borrow any more money as we have nothing as equity as we have lost our cattle and income for the next two to four years,” she said.

“This will see a massive collapse of our industry. It will have an economic impact on our trade with other nations as a lot of our cattle is sold to overseas markets either by live export or by packaged beef products.”

Australia’s beef industry is one of the country’s biggest economic drivers, with exports in 2017 worth $5.3 billion (AU$7.4 billion). About $6.1 billion (AU$8.6 billion) worth of beef was consumed domestically from July 2017 until June 2018, according to trade group Meat <><><><><><><><& Livestock Australia/a./ppBut farmers like Anderson are also in a state of emotional and psychological shock after losing the cattle./pp"We are so saddened by the suffering the animals went through with the flood, wind and rain," Anderson said. "Some were washed away in the floods. They now hang in trees, fences, bridges, railway lines. They piled in corners to huddle together to get out of the wind and rain but ended up trampling each other. These images are hard to see."/ppThe CEO of a href="https://www.agforceqld.org.au/index.php?fbclid=IwAR1_HigWhiXt6NuFhRdEWN2QPaQFAGIvViUvgKp5fOCxii8NTIXiR7Ye20sid=view%2C779><><><><><><><><><>