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Byron Shire
August 20, 2022

Farmers: flood rebuild vital for regional survival

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An increase in federal government funding to rebuild businesses in Lismore has been welcomed by the state’s peak farming body, but it remains concerned about vital job losses.

Many businesses were crippled when successive major floods devastated the region earlier this year, and NSW Farmers said a failure to properly support them would have wide-ranging impacts.

Norco is 100% Australian owned.

Last week dairy co-operative Norco announced 240 staff would be laid off on July 15 if business recovery grants were not boosted, and NSW Farmers Dairy Committee Chair Colin Thompson said it would be a big blow for the region.

‘We know that when jobs are lost in regional communities you lose people from those communities,’ Mr Thompson said.

‘History tells us that even if Norco was able to rebuild this factory, it might face big challenges getting people to come back to the area.

‘In the meantime, you have those workers dealing with lost wages – some of them with lost homes – and they will struggle to make their lives in the area without these jobs.”

Norco, a farmer-owned co-operative, was just one of many businesses in the region that was facing tough decisions because of the flood damage. Mr Thompson said farmers were keen to get on with the recovery and get life back to normal, but the sheer scale of the disaster was forcing its hand.

‘Impacts to the Norco business impact the farmers who have already had to deal with livestock and infrastructure issues because of the floods,’ Mr Thompson said.

‘Shoppers know and trust iconic Australian brands like Norco as a fresh, quality product.

‘Any reduction in staff now will be compounded when operations come back online as employees will not be there to jump straight back in and this will have a major impact on the whole regional economy.’

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