$30m in losses

Or­chardists meet to dis­cuss the dev­as­tat­ing storms

Central and North Burnett Times - - LOCAL NEWS - ❏ Bran­don Livesay

A TRAIL of de­struc­tion 8km wide has left Gayn­dah’s hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try des­per­ate for help.

Hail storms just prior to Christ­mas de­stroyed en­tire crops in some or­chards.

A Cit­rus Storm Dam­age As­sis­tance meet­ing was held on Thurs­day.

The losses suf­fered were made crys­tal clear.

Judy Shep­herd from Gayn­dah Fruit Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion told the meet­ing that grow­ers had “an es­ti­mated gross loss of $30 mil­lion”.

“We need a dec­la­ra­tion (of ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances),” she said.

The Dec­la­ra­tion of Ex­cep­tional Cir­cum­stances would al­low for shire-wide low-in­ter­est loans.

North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil CEO Mark Pitt said the storm would not only af­fect grow­ers but the whole town.

“If we are talk­ing about a $30 mil­lion loss, we’re look­ing at $150 mil­lion im­pact on this town, which then spreads through the re­gion,” Mr Pitt said.

Bund­aberg Fruit and Veg­etable Grow­ers ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Peter Hock­ings said his or­gan­i­sa­tion would be writ­ing a let­ter of sup­port for a dec­la­ra­tion.

“I es­ti­mate it to be closer to a $210 mil­lion im­pact to the re- gion,” Mr Hock­ings said.

Brian Gal­lagher from Cit­rus Mon­i­tor­ing Ser­vices de­scribed the loss of in­come as a “pretty big body blow”.

“You’ve got two years of costs with one year of in­come,” he said.

“They’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to get back into full pro­duc­tion for an­other two years.

“I’ve been here 40 years and I’ve never seen any­thing like this be­fore.”

Photo: Contributed

TRAIL OF DE­STRUC­TION: Hail storms stripped trees of fruit, leaves and branches, as well as dam­ag­ing ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems.

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