No re­lief for North Bur­nett

Farm­ers have not ap­plied for as­sis­tance since cy­clone

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - Jack Lawrie jack.lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au

NORTH Bur­nett farm­ers look­ing for sup­port fol­low­ing the floods caused by Cy­clone Deb­bie have been left want­ing from State Gov­ern­ment re­lief.

El­i­gi­bil­ity for dis­as­ter re­lief is based on dam­age to the re­gion as a whole and the North Bur­nett did not meet the cri­te­ria for Cat­e­gory C fund­ing, which in­cluded Whit­sun­day-Mackay, the Clarke Creek area of cen­tral Queens­land, and the most heav­ily flooded ar­eas of south-east Queens­land.

Cat­e­gory C re­lief would have al­lowed pro­duc­ers to ap­ply for a clean up and re­cov­ery grant of up to $25,000.

While the North Bur­nett may have fared bet­ter than most, it’s small com­fort to farm­ers who have had their liveli­hoods af­fected.

Monto pro­ducer Robert Now­land’s prop­erty was se­verely af­fected by the floods, and when he called QRAA to seek sup­port, they couldn’t help.

“I’m still fix­ing fences from the flood, I’ve had 22 head of cows and calves wan­der­ing into the neigh­bour’s yard,” Mr Now­land said.

“I saved a few pump­kins but all my veg­gies washed away and I’m only just now start­ing to re­plant.”

Farmer Ja­son Larsen said it’s pos­si­ble the flood’s ef­fect on the drought may have been a fac­tor.

“For many of us, we went from drought to flooded in just a few days,” Mr Larsen said.

Ac­cord­ing to a spokesper­son from the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries, as of May 22 no pri­mary pro­duc­ers from the North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil area had ap­plied for Cat­e­gory B As­sis­tance from QRAA or the DAF.

Pro­duc­ers are el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for Cat­e­gory B, which in­cludes nat­u­ral dis­as­ter re­cov­ery loans of up to $250,000, work­ing cap­i­tal loans of up to $100,000, and freight sub­si­dies of up to $5,000.

North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil Mayor Rachel Cham­bers said the coun­cil worked with DAF of­fi­cers to tour the worst af­fected farms, which led to the de­ci­sion to ac­ti­vate Cat­e­gory A and B fund­ing, but not

C.

“The Cy­clone Deb­bie event did im­pact pro­duc­ers but over­all cost across in­dus­try sec­tors did not meet the re­quire­ments of Cat­e­gory C,” Cr Cham­bers said.

“Even with­out the re­gion wide an­nounce­ment of Cat­e­gory C in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances it is pos­si­ble for in­di­vid­ual pro­duc­ers to re­ceive that level of sup­port.

“Coun­cil is work­ing with a cou­ple of local pro­duc­ers to ap­ply for the mea­sures.”

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