News and Views

Deadline may cut growers out of Cyclone Debbie aid

CANEGROWERS is calling on the Queensland and Federal Governments to extend the deadline for farmers impacted by Tropical Cyclone Debbie to apply for disaster assistance fearing many with damaged and ruined paddocks and buildings will miss out.

“Farmers are eligible for a raft of measures including grants under the Category C package of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “But the work must be completed before the 13 October 2017 deadline so they can claim the assistance.

“There are a lot of factors that make an extension necessary. Many growers still need to access advice to make the best use of what is available.”

CANEGROWERS expects that a Category D package, already agreed to by the State and Federal Governments, will include money for recovery officers to provide technical advice to farmers.

“Although the package was announced, no money has been released, meaning that the assistance growers need is not available and they are holding off making their Category C applications,” Mr Galligan said.

“Existing advisory services are stretched. Bolstering those with resources from the Category D $2.1 million economic package would enable informed recovery to proceed.”

With the harvest in full swing in the affected sugarcane areas of Proserpine, Mackay and Plane Creek, some farm damage is only just now being revealed.

“In some cases, what was thought to be minor damage has been exposed as serious washouts once the crop cover is removed,” Mr Galligan said. “And there’s a real risk that more may become apparent after the deadline to restore it with assistance has passed.

“Another complication to recovery progressing within the timeframe is that there is a shortage of equipment and contractors to complete earthmoving and laser-levelling work and a short supply of road-base and hardfill material.”

CANEGROWERS is writing to the Queensland and Federal governments asking for an extension to the 13 October 2017 deadline for Category C applications to allow time for recovery officers to be appointed to assist growers with getting the best outcome from the grants available and for all necessary repair work to be carried out.

Source: CANEGROWERS

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