Flood-affected farmers in New South Wales call for disaster funding three weeks onKim Honan, Thursday April 20, 2017 - 14:28 EST
The macadamia industry is urgently calling for a decision to be made on Category C disaster assistance for its growers in northern New South Wales.
Grants of up to $25,000 were affected by Cyclone Debbie, but those south of the border are still waiting.
It is estimated that between 5 to 10 per cent of the macadamia crop in the Northern Rivers has been lost.
Australian Macadamia Society chief executive Jolyon Burnett said that lost nut would have been worth about $8 million.
"Then damage to roads, orchard floor and other infrastructure perhaps around the $5 million mark just here in the Northern Rivers," he said.
"I think the best case for the government stepping up providing assistance for growers like macadamia growers to get back on their feet, is that the rural industries here in the Northern Rivers are a major contributor to this economy.
"The macadamia industry alone earns over $100 million in export earnings for the Northern Rivers, just for the Northern Rivers."
Prompt decision needed for NSW growers
Mr Burnett said flood and storm events could have a huge impact on the ability of farms to generate that kind of activity.
"The sooner the governments, at both state and federal level, can commit to some assistance, the sooner growers can begin that clean up and get back to supporting themselves financially," he said.
"And generating that sort of economic activity will be absolutely vital in getting this region back on its feet.
"It's very frustrating to see that damage in Queensland is worth more than damage in New South Wales, and that the livelihood of farmers and the economies they support is worth more in Queensland than in NSW.
"It should not be beyond the NSW and Federal Governments to make a similarly prompt decision here in New South Wales."
Following the storm and flood damage from Cyclone Debbie, the national macadamia crop forecast for 2017 is expected to be revised down from 54,000 tonnes nut-in-shell to 52,000.
Soybean crop to be reduced by flooding
This year 10,000 hectares of soybeans were in the ground across the Northern Rivers, from the Clarence Valley to the Tweed Valley.
But North Coast Oilseed Growers' Association president Paul Fleming said the major flood inundation would significantly reduce the crop harvested this year.
"It's a bit early to tell yet, but I would say only 60 to 70 per cent of that will be harvested now," he said.
"Anywhere east of Coraki on the Richmond was pretty devastating really. West of Coraki wasn't as bad.
"Most of it was in the cane areas which is the lower river areas, but there are some growers down that way that are pretty well devastated that haven't got much crop left at all."
To date, $3.75 million in crops have been reported lost in the Northern Rivers, and another $445,000 of beans downgraded.
"We're estimating that about $1.8m worth of soybean crop has been lost in the Richmond Valley area, including the cane growers, and probably another $320,000 has been downgraded," Mr Fleming said.
"So instead of being edible quality beans, it'll only be crushing beans, so they could cop up to $100 a tonne hit on that.
"Our estimate is about $1.2m worth of crop lost on the Tweed, and they don't grow as many beans up there and that's pretty much the entire crop up there. I don't think there's hardly any soybeans left on the Tweed Valley.
"Also on the Clarence there's $750,000 lost and another $125,000 downgraded."
Losses likely to grow as reports come in
Those figures are likely to climb as growers continue to return their damage reports to their industry body.
Mr Fleming said some growers had lost their entire crop, and assistance was needed now in the form of cash grants.
"The disappointing bit for us is how they've already announced the Category C funding for the Lismore businesses, and Murwillumbah, but the poor primary producer at this stage hasn't got any announcement as yet," he said.
A NSW Office of Emergency Management spokesperson said the office had received the NSW Department of Primary Industries' impact assessment last night, and was in the process of urgently reviewing it.
Once the impact assessment is reviewed, an application for Category C funding will be lodged.
That application will need to be approved by the NSW Premier before it is forwarded to the Commonwealth for a final decision.
"The NSW Government advocates strongly for additional funding when primary producers have been severely impacted by disaster," the spokesperson said in a statement.
"However, the final decision on funding ultimately rests with the Commonwealth."
© ABC 2017
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