Macadamia farmers in Byron and Ballina shires are desperate for the Category C disaster assistance that was declared for Tweed, Lismore and five other shires this week.
While the $15,000 recovery grants have come at a crucial time for the more than 200 macadamia growers in the Lismore, Tweed and Nambucca local government areas (LGAs), there are hundreds more growers in the Byron and Ballina LGAs who have been severely hit by the bad weather and who urgently need the same relief, says Australian Macadamia Society (AMS) chief executive officer Jolyon Burnett.
Mr Burnett told ABC radio this morning, ‘we have one member in Ballina who lost 7,000 trees, just blown over or completely uprooted’.
He said another grower lost 30 per cent of their crop during the Australia Day storms.
‘It’s a great relief for our Tweed, Lismore and Nambucca macadamia growers who can now finish rebuilding and cleaning their orchards and finally get back on track with the 2013 harvest,’ said Mr Burnett.
But he added, ‘we are very disappointed that the same assistance has not been extended to the Ballina and Byron LGAs, and this morning there are a lot of struggling farmers scratching their heads in disbelief. It is inconceivable that from Bundaberg to Taree virtually the only LGAs to be unaffected by the storms were Ballina and Byron.’
To justify the call for government support immediately following the floods, the AMS gathered extensive damage estimates from its grower members across the region.
‘The AMS understands that all of agriculture damage assessments in these LGAs have been insufficient to meet the criteria. We are calling on the DIP and those industries involved to ensure that relevant damage estimates are comprehensive and accurate,’ said Mr. Burnett.
Ex-cyclone Oswald and the wild weather that followed in February affected 80 per cent of the region’s macadamia farms, resulting in $13 million of lost production and a cleanup bill of more than $7 million.