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Minister seeking federal help for citrus growers

By Eric Tlozek, Tuesday February 5, 2013 - 08:18 EDT
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Citrus farmer Ken Roth's orchard near Gayndah has been all but wiped out. - ABC

Citrus growers in the Burnett region of Queensland's southern inland will ask the State Agriculture Minister for urgent help when he pays them a visit today.

Growers in Gayndah and Mundubbera have been devastated by the January floods.

Citrus consultant Brian Gallagher says any recovery will take a long time.

"There's been huge infrastructure damage, a lot of people have lost pumps, a lot of people have lost trees, a lot of people have had trees pushed over," he said.

Queensland Agriculture Minister John McVeigh will meet farmers and industry representatives in the North Burnett today.

He says they need help quickly.

"For many of them, they will want to be irrigating again within weeks, given the nature of the crop."

The State Government has asked the Commonwealth to urgently increase relief payments to affected farmers.

Mr McVeigh says citrus growers were already suffering before they were hammered by the floods and their need has never been greater.

"The citrus industry, we've got to remember in this part of the state did take a hit with hailstorms prior to Christmas," he said.

"Obviously to face up again to this exceptional event has done significant damage."

The Australian Citrus Growers Association says every property in the Bundaberg and Central Burnett districts - about a third of the industry in Queensland - has been affected.

Association CEO Judith Damiani says about $10 million worth of crops have been lost.

She says local producers still face competition from importers.

"In terms of supporting the flood-affected Queensland growers we're urging everyone just to buy Australian lemons, and look out for Australian mandarins when they hit the shelves in six weeks time," she said.

"Help affected farmers by buying Australian citrus."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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