The dollar-for-dollar disaster recovery grants announced by the Federal Government will change the lives of thousands of cattle and sheep producers and offer hope to an industry suffering from a decade of disaster.
AgForce General President Georgie Somerset welcomed the grants of up to $400,000 per farm business as being “just what producers needed” to get the devastated North Queensland cattle industry back on its feet.
“Unprecedented natural disasters – drought then flood – have placed enormous strain on cattle producers and their families,” Mrs Somerset said.
“In the worst cases, producers have lost literally everything – livestock, fencing, machinery and homes – with the crippling cost of recovery in the millions of dollars.
“I can assure the Federal Government that its $300 million investment in the reconstruction of this hard-working and highly productive industry will be appreciated and well-used by farmers, in some cases turning their lives around.
“Graziers are a very proud bunch, so the fact that these grants are matched dollar for dollar means they are not a handout but a much-needed hand up.
“It also means that producers will not have to rely solely on increasing their farm debt to recover.”
The Federal Government grants are in addition to the State Government’s disaster loans of up to $250,000 at the concessional rate of 1.37% p.a. announced by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk earlier this month (March 2019).
AgForce’s North Queensland Board Member, Longreach grazier Dominic Burden, said the flexibility of the grants made them so much more effective, providing hope and the ability to plan for the future, not simply replace what was lost.
“The grants can be used for restocking, replanting or replacing infrastructure and equipment, so it means that each farm business can make their own decision as how to best apply the grants to support their recovery,” Mr Burden said.
“And the fact that they can be used for costs already incurred is very welcome.”
Mrs Somerset praised both the Federal and State Governments for their long-term commitment to the reconstruction.
“We commend both levels of Government for working closely with AgForce and the local Councils from the earliest hours of the disaster to develop a comprehensive, long-term solution that will work,” she said.
“We primary producers are a resilient bunch, used to dealing with almost any adversity, but the devastating floods after years of drought have really knocked the industry around and it will take years if not decades to fully recover.
“There is no doubt that AgForce’s role in helping Government understand the scale and implications of the disaster, and how assistance could best be delivered, is evident in the recovery measures that have been announced.
“AgForce is committed to ensuring producers have all the support they need for this to happen, and will continue to advocate for the industry and provide advice to the Government to ensure the best possible outcomes.”
AgForce has established a multi-disciplinary liaison committee chaired by Mr Burden that will feed information and advice directly to Shane Stone and the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency (NQLIRA) to ensure valuable resources are most effectively and efficiently applied.