Whan visits sugar cane industry for local flood perspective

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 20th January 2011

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Steve Whan today met with local cane growers and industry officials in the Clarence Valley to see first-hand the impact recent floods have had on the sector.

“It’s clear to me that the impact of the recent flood will be felt by the cane industry not just now or next week, but well into this year and next,” Minister Whan said.

“I have seen extensive areas of young cane crops battered following inundation by flood waters and now the industry is facing a long road to recovery with estimates that the 2012 harvest may be down by 50 per cent and second planting may be required in some spots.

“The North Coast sugar cane industry is one of the region’s biggest employers and accounts for about $230 million of regional economic output per annum.

“This is one of the North Coast’s iconic agricultural industries and like events before this, it will bounce back from this disaster.

“These floods add to the difficulties faced by the industry caused by a very wet spring that impacted on the harvest and replanting.

“Other agricultural industries have not been spared, including dairy, soybean and grazing enterprises as well as farms in the upper catchment around Tabulam.”

Minister Whan said the cane processing industry raised concerns about low crop forecasts, reduced sugar content and flow on impacts to the refinery.

“Assistance measures are available to the region now and I encourage farmers to contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593,” he said

A variety of assistance is available to flood-affected farmers, including recovery grants for farmers, loans, transport subsidies of up to 50% for livestock and fodder, income subsidy through Newstart, financial counselling and, for eligible residents of Clarence Valley, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tamworth Regional and Tenterfield, the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment.