GROWCOM is calling on the State Government to reinstate the Farm Financial Counsellors scheme to help growers affected by flood.Queensland horticulture body Growcom today began assessing damage to farms from the weekend's major flooding events.
Growcom chief executive Alex Livingstone said the organisation felt the heartbreak of many growers who were faced with the grim task of waiting for flood waters to recede from their properties.
"Some growers are faced with an anxious wait as water levels continue to rise,'' Mr Livingstone said.
"For many, it will be at least six months before their farms have an income again.
"For others, where orchards have been uprooted by the strength of the wind or damaged by flood waters, it will take much longer.''
Mr Livingstone said he welcomed the State Government's announcement of assistance to disaster-affected communities in Queensland under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).
He also said Industry Recovery Officers would also be essential in helping growers to deal with the practical and emotional issues involved in recovery.
"We hope that these arrangements can be made swiftly in the hardest hit regions,'' he said.
Growcom officers attended the Agriculture Control Meeting convened by the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, John McVeigh, to present initial damage estimates.
"We have been contacting growers in the Chinchilla, Mundubbera, Gayndah, Bundaberg, Stanthorpe, Lockyer Valley, Fassifern Valley, Gympie, Sunshine Coast, Logan, Kalbar and Boonah regions affected by the floods to compile damage records,'' Mr Livingstone said.
These include estimates of outright loss of vegetable and fruit crops, loss of orchard trees, lack of access to paddocks for harvesting or planting, delays to planting of new crops, loss of quality in harvested crops and loss of infrastructure.
"The next few weeks will determine the full extent of the damage which will be impacted on by the rate at which flood water drains off properties and whether further rain hinders clean-up efforts and raises the spectre of increased fungal diseases,'' Mr Livingstone said.
"Damage bills across the state are likely to be in the millions of dollars before production can return to normal in some of the hardest hit areas.
"While much of the focus is on the Lockyer Valley and Bundaberg regions, it is becoming clear that there is extensive damage across many regions. Orchards in the Gayndah/Mundubbera area have been particularly hard hit.
"The immediate priorities in terms of assistance to our industry will be reconnection of power, telephone and internet access and repair of damage to roads, culverts and bridges preventing the movement of workers to farms and fresh produce to market,'' he said.