Producers snubbed by government subsidy allocations
FACED with the prospect of losing their livelihoods, Southern Downs growers want to know why the State Government is leaving them high and dry when it comes to water freighting relief.
Currently, drought aid distributed by the Queensland Government includes water carting subsidies for producers who need water to maintain livestock, but offers no similar guarantees for orchard or vine growers.
Unlike other horticultural producers in the region, vineyards and orchards are different, in that they need to water their crops constantly, even if they're not producing any product.
For the region's producers, this difference amounts to a massive cost.
Ann Bourke from Jester Hill wines estimates she spends $2,500 a week to maintain her vineyard until the rain comes.
"We're going through 10 loads of water a week just to keep the vineyard alive," Mrs Bourke said.
"These are long-term plants - if we lose our vineyards, we couldn't afford to replant and even if we could, it would be another six years before we had grapes to harvest."
In a statement from Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner to Member for Southern Downs James Lister, Mr Furner said funding allocation was a Federal Government matter.
But Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud disagreed.
"Freight subsidies are a State Government initiative," Mr Littleproud said.
"The Federal Government has no role in determining the allocation or criteria for state-based subsidy programs."
Mr Lister said he couldn't understand why the State Government wasn't helping its $3million industry in its time of need.
"You can't expect a region in terrible drought to stand up on its own," Mr Lister said.
"The horticulturists in the Granite Belt are very resilient and hate asking for help.
"What they want is a hand up not a handout."
But in the middle of a political back and forth are growers like Mrs Bourke, trying their hardest to make do.
"If local business aren't looked after, our local economy go downhill even more," she said.
"Our vines are our future."
The Warwick Daily News contacted the State Government for comment but they did not respond.