Hort reeling from Oswald

AS Queensland and northern NSW count the costs of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, horticulture industry leaders are calling for speedy assessments of affected areas so growers can get back on their feet.

Ausveg, the national peak industry body representing Australian vegetable and potato growers, says it’s critical disaster relief assessment is carried out efficiently to allow growers access to 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 also some of the regions hardest hit by the weather events of the past fortnight.

Ausveg spokesperson Hugh Gurney said vegetable production operations in those areas have been devastated by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

He said feedback from growers indicated the effects would be felt for generations and the damage far worse than in other flooding events of recent years.

“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.

He said the long-term implications for vegetable commodity supplies would not be known until growing operations could 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,” Mr Gurney said.

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,” 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.”

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