Devastating flooding in Queensland’s northwest is feared to have killed about 500,000 cattle and left farmers with estimated costs of $5 billion – but most is not covered by insurance.

The Cattle Council of Australia says the full extent of losses is difficult to calculate, but feedback from affected properties suggests more than 500,000 animals have died.

“Overall costs associated with on-property losses, including livestock and infrastructure, are estimated at $5 billion,” a spokesman told

“Some 800 properties have been affected over 13.25 million hectares – an area twice the size of Tasmania. Due to prohibitive insurance costs, it is not common for producers to have commercial breeding herds covered for losses arising from floods.”

The Insurance Council of Australia confirmed to that “relatively few” primary producers choose to insure stock and fences for any type of loss, including flood.

“Business insurance for a farm or property is typically purchased through an insurance broker or agent,” spokesman Campbell Fuller said. “The business owner and broker will typically determine the specific insurance needs of the business and the business owner will then determine which needs they will purchase cover for.

“Most basic farm policies don’t cover livestock or large runs of fencing. Flood cover may be offered as an extension or an opt-in for farm insurance by some insurers. Other farm insurers may exclude flood under all conditions.

“The policyholder must make a decision regarding which extensions they want for their policy.”

Joint Commonwealth-Queensland disaster recovery grants of up to $75,000 are available to primary producers affected by flooding in Burdekin, Burke, Carpentaria, Cloncurry, Douglas, Flinders, Hinchinbrook, McKinlay, Richmond, Townsville and Winton.