As Queensland and Northern NSW count the costs of cyclone Oswald, AUSVEG, the national Peak Industry Body representing Australian vegetable and potato growers, is calling for efficient disaster relief assessment of affected areas in order to 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.
“Vegetable production operations in these areas have been devastated by cyclone Oswald, with growers saying that the effects will be felt for generations and the damage far worse than in other flooding events of recent years,” said AUSVEG Spokesperson, Hugh Gurney.
“AUSVEG welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement that $25,000 grants will be made available for farmers, small business owners and charities in the state’s worst-hit areas, and AUSVEG hopes that these grants will be made available to growers as quickly as possible and extended where necessary,” said Mr Gurney.
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.
“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,” said Mr Gurney.
There are reports that many growers in the Bundaberg and Mundubbera areas are still without power and access to clean water.
“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,” said Mr Gurney.
“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,” said Mr Gurney.