Hort Chat: Weather impacts on farmers

By Bree Grima

The recent weather event which follows on from the November ones has resulted in a wide range of impacts for producers across the entire Wide Bay Burnett.

Our thoughts go to those most affected particularly around the Maryborough region.

Growers in the Bundaberg and Gympie Regions are reporting headland damage, loss of gravel and topsoil and some crop damage as the most common impacts with most damage reported from $30,000 per farm onwards.

Some infrastructure damage has also been reported with impacted pumps and water logging most common. In general, however, many growers are feeling positive for the year ahead.

A range of grants and assistance is now available for those directly impacted and BFVG has been working with industry stakeholders to collate data to support a Category C classification for the January event.

There have been several activations of support for the Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Gympie, North Burnett, and South Burnett Regions since early January including freight subsidies and disaster assistance loans for primary producers and small business.

Extraordinary Assistance Grants have been activated for the November weather events and will aid clean-up costs and reinstatement of primary production.

Producers can apply for an initial application of $10,000 with a subsequent claim of $40,000 also available.

BFVG is available to help growers with their applications and can be contacted at the main office on Enterprise Street for this.

In addition to disaster assistance Industry has welcomed news that agriculture and fisheries production continues to be recognised as a critical industry.

Employers in these sectors can identify critically essential roles within their business that cannot be performed at home and close contacts may now leave quarantine to carry out these roles if they have no COVID-19 symptoms and are fully vaccinated.

Employers are reminded that it is a business decision to allow these workers in during the quarantine period and the wellbeing of their remaining workforce must remain priority however these flexible arrangements will play a vital role in ensuring critically essential roles like harvesting of produce can continue.

Whilst the goal posts will continue to move in relation to how we manage COVID the community can rest assured production of fruits and vegetables will continue and that Industry prioritises the health and wellbeing of its workforce.