Australia: Queensland growers assess flood damage -

Australia: Queensland growers assess flood damage

Growers in the Australian state of Queensland are faced with an "anxious wait" as water levels continue to rise, according to the state's horticultural body Growcom. Brisbane flood _ Flickr Commons _ ShepsSnaps - small

Growcom chief executive officer Alex Livingstone said his organization felt the heartbreak of many growers who were faced with the grim task of waiting for waters to recede so they could clean up and get back to production.

"For many, it will be at least six months before their farms have an income again. For others, where orchards have been uprooted by the strength of the wind or damaged by flood waters it will take much longer," he said in a release.

"The immediate priorities in terms of assistance to our industry will be reconnection of power, telephone and internet access and repair of damage to roads, culverts and bridges preventing the movement of workers to farms and fresh produce to market.

"While the damage is not as widely spread as in the 2010/11 floods, for some individual growers the effect of their properties being under flood waters again is the same as last time. For others it is far worse. For those growers who bore the brunt of the 2010/11 floods the struggle to get going again will be very hard."

Growcom called on the state government to reinstate the Farm Financial Counsellors scheme to assist growers in getting back on their feet financially.

"Industry Recovery Officers will also be essential in helping growers to deal with the practical and emotional issues involved in recovery. We hope that these arrangements can be made swiftly in the hardest hit regions.

"We have been contacting growers in the Chinchilla, Mundubbera, Gayndah, Bundaberg, Stanthorpe, Lockyer Valley, Fassifern Valley, Gympie, Sunshine Coast, Logan, Kalbar and Boonah regions affected by the floods to compile damage records."

"The next few weeks will determine the full extent of the damage which will be impacted on by the rate at which flood water drains off properties and whether further rain hinders clean-up efforts and raises the spectre of increased fungal diseases."

He said damage bills would likely hit "millions of dollars" before production could return to normal in some of the hardest hit areas.

"While much of the focus is on the Lockyer Valley and Bundaberg regions, it is becoming clear that there is extensive damage across many regions. Orchards in the Gayndah/Mundubbera area have been particularly hard hit."

Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) chief executive officer Jim Pekin told disasters this year have been very different both in terms of cyclones in the state's north and floods in South East Queensland.

"This is nothing like it. This was a category one cyclone system. Yasi was a category five, so it's been virtually not much more than normal rain in the [banana] growing areas," he said.

"In terms of roads cut, the road was briefly closed in the growing area near Cardwell was opened within 24 hours, so not much interruption in transport and logistics.

"The floods we’ve got in Queensland are in towns like Bundaberg which are a long way further south of the main banana growing area."

The ABGC's office is in the Brisbane Markets, which Pekin says also have not been as badly affected by flooding as in 2011.

Photo: Flickr, ShepsSnaps