Qld graziers hit by grasshopper plague

Swarms of grasshoppers have stripped paddocks bare in western Queensland.
Swarms of grasshoppers have stripped paddocks bare in western Queensland.

Just four weeks ago, graziers in western Queensland were celebrating new growth in their paddocks after decent summer rain finally fell.

For some, those green shoots were the first they'd seen after a decade in drought.

But three weeks ago, the grasshoppers arrived and stripped paddocks bare.

The race is now on to make sure the eggs they've already laid in the ground won't spawn another plague 12 months from now.

The Queensland government has formed a working group to see what can be done but says there are currently no chemical solutions for grasshoppers approved for use by the national pesticides regulator.

The group is investigating if a safe chemical solution can be identified and is also surveying graziers to determine the scale of financial losses.

The opposition is demanding urgent assistance for affected producers, saying they need the sort of help offered to bushfire victims.

"In many ways it's no different to a bushfire ranging through their property. They've lost everything in a very short period of time," Opposition Leader David Crisafulli told reporters in western Queensland on Wednesday.

He said they needed that assistance now, to make sure they don't have to de-stock their properties.

Opposition MP Lachlan Millar says graziers in his outback electorate of Gregory also need to know the same thing won't happen to them next year.

"We need the registration of certain chemicals to make sure these graziers can use a variety of insecticides to be able to hit these grasshoppers when they start to swarm," he said.

"Just hit those hot spots ... so they don't need to spray large areas."

Mr Millar said the current plague was no surprise. He said the same thing happened last year, and because nothing was done, graziers were dealing with the current crisis.

"We've got 12 months now - actually under 12 months - to get this right."

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the government had moved quickly when the plague hit.

"There are no chemical solutions currently on the market to deal with grasshoppers, but we are working closely with producers and local councils to identify management options," he said in a statement.

Australian Associated Press