In a full house at the Gatton Shire Hall last Wednesday close to 200 people were in attendance, representing 44 of the many separate farms in the Lockyer Valley impacted by the rain and flood event that also left its mark across most of south east Queensland.
A survey on the night found an average of $353,000 in damages per farm, with individual business impacts ranging from $15,000 to $2 million.
Treasurer Cameron Dick has since identified agriculture and horticulture among those industries most impacted in estimating a total $1 billion in lost economic activity from the event statewide.
Growcom wants to put on record our thanks to both Queensland and Australian governments for the speed with which the disaster declaration was made across 17 local government areas, and for the level of assistance offered.
We have welcomed the Extraordinary Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants of up to $75,000 available to hire or purchase equipment and materials, clean up, remove debris, replace fencing and other costs associated with the recovery process.
The first $15,000 is available to support an initial claim, with evidence of the direct damage required including photographs, quotations, tax invoices or official receipts. A subsequent amount of up to $60,000 is available to support subsequent claims for which full evidence of payment is required.
Growers should not rely on their own assessment of being ineligible, and should not hesitate to call and ask for advice.
State agencies, including QRIDA who are administering the grants, want the funds to reach the people who need them and will help growers find eligible costs.
For guidance, advice and to apply for grant funding, visit www.qrida.qld.gov.au/primary-producers or freecall 1800 623 946.
As with past disasters, this flooding event has, however, revealed some of the gaps and inequities in the framework guiding recovery spending, the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) jointly agreed by Commonwealth and state governments.
What follows the flood should be a reckoning with these perennial issues.
For example, our position remains the same that the exclusion of regular wages paid to permanent employees unfairly limits the ability of horticultural businesses to access grant assistance where, relative to other agricultural sectors, they often employ large numbers of staff who in responding to a disaster are directed away from their normal roles.
We appreciate funds must be spent judiciously, but believe the taxpayer wouldn't want the difficulty of determining whether these costs are reasonable to prevent assistance reaching those most in need.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.