Orchards hit hard by hail
ORCHARDISTS who suffered severe hail damage in December will meet to discuss their options tonight.
Judy Shepherd, from the Gayndah Fruit Growers Association, said orchardists would be trying to get a declaration of exceptional circumstances at the meeting.
“There have been 19 orchards with greater than 50% damage, and of those between 10 and 11 had 70–100% damage,” Mrs Shepherd said.
“A reasonable number of orchards outside those 19 would have some sort of damage,” she said. “Financially, the major part of the losses are going to be felt around November, December this year.
“The trees have also been absolutely shredded and are at high risk of disease developing in the damaged leaves.”
Growers are estimating 1200 bins of imperials (domestic sales) and about 2500 to 3000 bins of murcott (export sales) have been lost.
The Department of Agricul- ture, Fisheries and Forestry lists three main criteria for exceptional circumstances – the event must be rare and severe, result in a rare and severe downturn in farm income over a prolonged period, and the event must not be predictable or part of a process of structural alignment.
Mayor Don Waugh said there were ways orchardists could be helped. “The idea of the meeting was to let the orchardists know what support is available to them,” Cr Waugh said.“We’re looking at low interest loans, and subsidies on sprays and fertilisers.
“These sorts of things need to be put in place. It’s an industry that’s already under threat from imports.”
A Department of Primary Industries officer will attend the meeting in Gayndah’s supper room at 6pm today.
WRITE-OFF: Damaged fruit at Roths Orchard, which had almost 100% losses and no marketable fruit.