AS Queensland and NSW growers count the costs of Cyclone Oswald, groups are calling for more efficient disaster relief assessment.AusVeg said this would allow growing operations to quickly access emergency assistance packages available under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
The Bundaberg, North Burnett, Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim shires of Queensland are some of Australia's largest and most important horticultural regions and are also some of the regions hardest hit by the weather events of the past fortnight.
AusVeg spokesperson Hugh Gurney said vegetable production operations in these areas had been devastated by cyclone Oswald, with growers saying the effects would be felt for generations.
Mr Gurney said AusVeg welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement that $25,000 grants would be made available for farmers, small business owners and charities in the state's worst-hit areas, but hoped these grants would be made available as quickly as possible.
"The longer term implications for vegetable commodity supplies will not be known until growing operations can fully assess the damage done to their operations by the flooding,'' he said.
"While horticultural production areas have been hit hard, consumers will still have reliable access to most vegetable commodities due to diverse growing areas nationally and produce which has already been harvested and is now in storage.''
Queensland horticultural group Growcom said fruit and vegetable losses could exceed $100 million as early damage reports from the floods roll in.
Chief executive Alex Livingstone said many growers were faced with the grim task of rebuilding from scratch and called for the State Government to reinstate the Farm Financial Counsellors scheme.
National citrus body Citrus Australia has called on supermarkets and consumers to support Australian lemon growers affected by the Queensland floods.
"Getting agricultural businesses back on their feet should be of paramount priority, as agriculture is the major industry in many flood affected areas and once farming operations start to recover, so too can the surrounding communities,'' Mr Gurney said.
"The Australian vegetable growing community is very strong and resilient.
"AusVeg understands that despite the challenges they face on farm, some Bundaberg vegetable growers have donated tonnes of produce to local emergency relief centres.''