Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd enjoys a flat white. Photo Mara Pattison-Sowden / The Observer
Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd enjoys a flat white. Photo Mara Pattison-Sowden / The Observer Mara Pattison-Sowden

Funding not enough for farmers

A CENTRAL Queensland farm lost 1200 mango trees and its entire crop of avocado and lychees when Cyclone Marcia tore through the region in February.

Another lost an entire orchard of macadamia trees, which was established 45 years ago.

Peak horticultural group Growcom believes Federal Government funding to date is not enough to help these struggling producers, and many others like them, get back on their feet.

Growcom CEO Pat Hannan said that despite the massive damage to infrastructure, trees, plants and crops, the government had not offered Category D loans of up to $650,000 interest free with a $50,000 grants component.

"With the amount of severe damage in the area, Growcom had expected that the Federal Government would provide similar levels of support as that provided to farmers following Tropical Cyclone Yasi," Mr Hannan said.

"Sadly, despite the Queensland Government's best efforts, the Federal Government has chosen only to approve $27.75million in total under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, compared to the estimated $198.5million needed to help the recovery of Central Queensland.

"There has been an allocation of $750,000 to deploy Industry Recovery Officers in the region, for which we are grateful, but the value of these officers is significantly reduced by the length of time it has taken to release the funds and the reduced funding directly available to growers."

Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry yesterday said there was a "significant amount" of assistance for farmers and primary producers.

This includes direct damage concessional loans of up to $250,000 and up to $25,000 reimbursement to farmers for the cost of recovery.

"I want to emphasise that these grants were only made available for victims of Cyclone Marcia, because of the severity and wide-ranging impact it had on farmers," Mr O'Dowd said. "These grants are not made available for all disasters, but we understand the great loss to income and personal property.

"New 'loss of income' concessional loans are also available to support farmers who may not previously have qualified for any assistance, despite losing significant income."

Ms Landry said Growcom should be asking questions of the State Government's level of support. The Bulletin is seeking a response from the State.



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