FARMERS have packed up and sold out their prime breeding stock as the drought wears on.
It's what happens when the drought breaks that sheep farmer Russell Webb is concerned about.
Last week at least 4000 cattle went to market in one day in Tamworth as producers offloaded their core stock.
"That national cattle herd and sheep flock are at all time lows and unless we do something to maintain a core level of breeding stock we will step into uncharted territory test ability to recover when it does rain," Mr Webb said.
This drought has been bigger than anything in living memory.Chris Paterson
Floods in northern Queensland saw at least 300,000 head of cattle lost, and there's concern that when the drought breaks farmers that want to restock won't be able to source it.
Cows in Tamworth sold for an average of $1.30 a kilogram on Monday, this time last year it was $2.30.
Most of the producers in Tamworth have already sold off their breeding stock and Tamworth Association of Agents president Chris Paterson estimated the local female breeder herd to be down to 30 per cent.
"This drought has been bigger than anything in living memory," he said.
"If we had something like a grain subsidy people would be more likely to keep numbers going."
Abattoirs that have international contracts will find them hard to fill when the drought breaks and beef prices at the local supermarket will skyrocket, Mr Paterson said.
As farmers look toward another dry autumn and winter, both Mr Paterson and Mr Webb believe a grain subsidy for producers would help.
"To have the regional economy on its feet in the shortest time there needs to be a program that offers people in the cattle and beef industry that are doing it seriously and professionally subsidised grain," Mr Webb said.
Special Envoy for Drought Barnaby Joyce said there needed to be a policy discussion from both levels of government.
"This year it's super serious, there's no feed going into winter because irrigators have no cotton," he said.
"This one could make recovery exceptionally difficult because when you have no money, no stock, where do you go from there?"