Mother Nature has once again bared her teeth with yet another major natural disaster affecting horticultural growing regions in Queensland’s north. While the full extent of damage will not be quantified for some time, we’ve had reports of significant crop and property damage in areas such as Rollingstone, Home Hill, Giru, Inkerman and Bowen. Our members are also reporting issues with soil erosion, loss of top soil and planting may be delayed in some areas.
Primary producers in 11 local council areas can now access special disaster assistance recovery grants including up to $75,000 to assist with the hiring and leasing of equipment, purchasing fodder, salvaging feed or crops and repairing essential plant and equipment. Growcom commends the state and federal governments for acting swiftly to active natural disaster assistance. In addition to monetary assistance, Growcom is now calling the governments to mobilise funds to support Industry Recovery and Resilience Officers (IRROs) in affected regions. Following previous disaster events, IRROs have proven to be invaluable helping with strategic, long-term farm recovery that ensures farm businesses recover faster, stronger and are better prepared for future events.
The horticulture sector in particular would benefit from industry-specific IRROs who could be deployed promptly following a disaster event to offer on-ground support to growers in the initial stages of their recovery. We encourage government to reconsider its long-term recovery planning to include an immediate and efficient on-farm recovery program that employs IRROs in times of immediate crisis. In the meantime Growcom will continue to assist affected growers to develop preliminary impact assessments in order to brief the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. This information is essential for us to advocate for assistance where it is needed and we urge growers affected to please fill in the online form via