Thursday, 17 February 2011 09:58

Help needed as farmers recover

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IMAGES COMING from Queensland have been horrific. There is no other way to describe them.

The stories of local residents losing everything – from a lifetime of possessions and memories in a flood-affected house, to livestock washed away down the river – can reduce you to tears.

 

Then you see and hear of the way communities have banded together to try and prevent even a small amount of damage, or prepare for the rebuilding process.

It is these people who will require assistance and goodwill for a rebuilding process that will take years.

Politicians, particularly the Labour variety, are not renowned for bending over backwards to help the country’s primary producers.

However, it’s good to see Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Prime Minister Julia Gillard acknowledge the long road of recovery ahead for Queensland farmers by providing grants of up to $25,000.

Sure, it’s the least they can do to help recovery of an industry that drives the national economy, but they’ve done it.

It’s now paramount for both governments to ensure the money and help can be accessed quickly. The last thing farmers who have lost everything need are requests for business records or receipts, which will have been literally washed away.

The Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation (QDO) will work with the Government to ensure farmers can receive assistance and support services as quickly as possible.

QDO staff were evacuating their Brisbane premises at the last possible minute as the flood waters approached to ensure they had all information necessary to help the State’s farmers.

The floods have affected a significant proportion of the State’s dairy farmers and have already caused tens of millions worth of losses and costs to the industry through damage and the inability to get milk from farms to be processed.

Unfortunately, financial losses will rise as the flooding increases and the extent of the damage is finally realised.

The dairy industry has initiated a recovery plan and will work with Government, processors and other industry partners to assist the recovery.

It’s the time for these long-term sparring partners to come together for the common good. It’s incredible, and sad, to think that it takes something like this for supermarkets and the processing sector to realise how much they depend on farmers.

They must work with the dairy community over the next few years as it gets back on its feet. It will get there, but it will also need help along the way.

 

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