Citrus grower markets shut

THE Queensland Government has offered financial help to Emerald citrus growers after some citrus canker-free properties were denied domestic market access last week.

Acting Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister Tony McGrady said the State Government was disappointed and frustrated that other states, the Commonwealth and the industry had failed to reopen domestic markets to Emerald-grown citrus.

Mr McGrady said the national management group's decision on Friday to not support market access for fruit grown on the five non-infested Emerald properties was based on a "lack of understanding''.

Citrus canker has only been found on two Emerald properties.

Mr McGrady said the State Government would allow the Cordoma and Iddles families ? two smaller atrisk and more domestic market dependent growers ? to refinance existing loans.

He said their properties had been surveyed twice and citrus canker had not been detected.

"These growers do not currently have the option to refinance existing loans and they have been reluctant to take on more debt.

"DPI&F will also offer business advice to these growers.''

Mr McGrady said the growers needed a decision today.

"The picking and destruction of the current Emerald citrus crops will be considered by interstate authorities and the Queensland Government as part of a national citrus canker response (this) week,'' he said.

"DPI&F will be seeking urgent decisions on how to handle the current crop in Emerald under a national cost-sharing arrangement.

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