THE federal and state governments have announced Category D assistance for flood affected Queensland areas.Premier Newman and peak horticulture industry body Growcom had been calling for the assistance since the scale of damage to horticultural farms was revealed in surveys.
Under Category D, eligible horticultural growers are now able to access higher concessional loans of up to $650, 000 with an interest free period of two years and a grant section of up to $50, 000.
Growcom chief executive Alex Livingstone said Category D assistance was far more realistic for undertaking recovery at a farm level - including clearing debris, repairing erosion, laser-levelling of paddocks, rebuilding access roads, replacing infrastructure and planting crops.
The assistance is available to growers in the local government areas of: Bundaberg Regional Council, Fraser Coast Regional Council, Gladstone Regional Council, Gympie Regional Council, Lockyer Valley Regional Council, North Burnett Regional Council, Scenic Rim Regional Council, South Burnett Regional Council, and parts of the Banana Regional Council, Goondiwindi Regional Council, Ipswich City Council, Somerset Regional Council, Southern Downs Regional Council and Toowoomba Regional Council.
Growcom said these areas needed to be extended.
"We urge the State Government to continue to negotiate with the Federal Government on wage subsidies,'' Mr Livingstone said.
"Wage subsidies are urgently needed right now to pay and retain farm labour during the weeks of farm clean-up ahead.
"We are hearing stories from growers that they are being forced to let their workers go because of a lack of farm income, despite the fact that they need them to help clean up and get the farm back into production.
"Wage subsidies were a pivotal part of the recovery after the 2010-11 natural disasters and are desperately needed again.''
Mr Livingstone also called for the appointment of Industry Recovery Officers.
"After previous natural disasters these officers with their understanding of industry needs were vitally important in helping growers to pull together the comprehensive information they needed to supply to gain access to assistance and to act as a conduit between growers and the government,'' Mr Livingstone said.