The latest announcement of additional disaster assistance in response to Tropical Cyclone Debbie leaves more work to be done to support growers and communities in Queensland and New South Wales hit by the storm and subsequent floods, according to vegetable industry body AUSVEG.
The additional assistance, funded jointly by the federal and state governments through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), includes grants as well as personal and financial counselling assistance for 29 affected local government areas.
“This announcement falls well short of the expectations of our growers who are currently in the process of cleaning up their farms and getting back on their feet after the destruction of Tropical Cyclone Debbie,” said AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside.
“While we acknowledge that it takes time to gather the facts and assess the extent of damage caused by an extreme weather event, the delays in this process have only served to add additional stress and uncertainty to those affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
“As the full extent of Tropical Cyclone Debbie’s impact continues to be assessed, we urge the state and federal governments to ensure that all affected communities, including our growers, receive the highest level of assistance possible.
“This support will be invaluable during the clean-up stage and will provide welcome relief to our growers as they start to rebuild their lives after this devastating storm. It could mean the difference between growers going out of business, or rebuilding and continuing their vital role in feeding our nation.”
Mr Whiteside noted the Federal Government activated Category D of the NDRRA to provide joint assistance with the Queensland Government following Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and Cyclone Oswald in 2013.
This included significant relief packages, such as $650,000 in concessional loans with a $50,000 grant component.
“Vision from the affected areas in Queensland and New South Wales, which include major agricultural and industrial regions, show that Cyclone Debbie has caused a devastating amount of damage that has been likened to that of Cyclone Yasi and Cyclone Oswald,” Mr Whiteside said.
“With reports suggesting that there has been billions of dollars of damage inflicted in recent weeks, it’s crucial that these affected communities are given all the support they need to recover quickly.”
Queensland growers affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie can contact Growcom on 07 3620 3844 or at email@example.com to discuss support options or to provide damage assessments.
New South Wales growers can contact Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.