Calls for assistance for agriculture businesses in QLD floods
Peak horticulture body Growcom today welcomed the announcement of a state-federal grant of up to $25 000 for small business and agricultural producers for clean-up and recovery in flood affected areas of Queensland, in addition to concessional interest rate loans and freight subsidies.
However Chief Executive Officer Alex Livingstone called for wider assistance for horticultural businesses destroyed in the floods in recognition of the severity of the situation for many growers.
Growcom has been contacting growers in the flood affected areas of Bundaberg, Chinchilla, St George, Emerald, Rockhampton and Yeppoon to assess the extent of damage.
Chief Executive Officer Alex Livingstone said that it was likely to be in the order of many millions of dollars.
“Crops have been lost in areas such as Chinchilla where the melon harvest was under way; in Emerald where citrus crops and table grape crops are damaged; and Bundaberg where salad vegetables have been hit together with fruit crops such as melons. In addition important infrastructure such as irrigation, pumps, sheds, machinery and accessible roads to markets has also been destroyed. In Yeppoon harvested pineapple crops are cut off from markets due to damaged roads and alternative transport arrangements are urgently required.
“We will meet with the state government this afternoon to assess the current situation and the priorities for growers whose livelihoods have been significantly damaged in our industry,” said Mr Livingstone.
“Growcom will continue to work with government agencies, other industry groups and the local community in offering assistance in this time of need to ensure that growers and their families are able to access emergency relief from the authorities.
“Clearly the horticulture industry and the communities it supports will require long term assistance to be able to rebuild,” he said.
Mr Livingstone called on the state and federal governments to continue to work together to offer timely and beneficial assistance to growers.
He said the governments must commit to medium and long term rebuilding efforts. This should involve structural mechanisms to deal with and effectively handle the recovery phase after the disaster.
“One important endeavour which followed the Cyclone Larry natural disaster was the formation of industry working groups for those commodities affected by the devastation.
“These commodity groups are in the best position to identify practical recovery strategies for each industry. It is essential that all affected growers and associated stakeholders participate in order to have issues and needs acknowledge and addressed during the recovery phase.
“Another worthwhile initiative is the appointment of industry recovery officers to work directly with farmers to help fast track their recovery after the floods. One of the key functions of these officers is to ensure local farmers are kept informed about the various financial, resource and personal assistance measures available to them.
“Getting clear and consistent information to affected farmers and to help them access what is available has been a challenge in past natural disasters which these positions can help overcome.
“Growcom will continue to engage with government, growers and industry groups to ensure streamlined processes are undertaken in the interests of all concerned.”