As the floodwaters recede, Queensland farmers are beginning the difficult recovery process. The intense monsoonal trough that bought unprecedented weather to the state’s north delivered one to two meters of rain in just days. The large system further impacted coastal farms already saturated by previous monsoonal activity and cruelly delivered an emotional roller coaster of drought dismay to short lived euphoria to flooding devastation to graziers in the west. Recovering from this natural disaster will take considerable time and effort. Natural disasters are part and parcel of farming in Queensland, but having years of hard work wiped out minutes or hours is stressful and emotional for farmers. For many businesses, total recovery is not possible, leaving them more vulnerable to the next event.
The Queensland and Australian governments should be acknowledged for their timely action through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. The swift activation of category C and D assistance for farmers is testament to a mature disaster response process. However as events become more extreme and unpredictable, it is appropriate to review our disaster response and ensure it meets the recovery and resilience needs of farmers across the state.
QFF understands and appreciates the need for government processes to be transparent and accountable, but this can restrict the responsiveness required to provide help where and when it is needed. Disaster affected farmers would benefit from a ‘shovel ready’ disaster recovery program for agriculture that delivers technical assistance in the initial stages of recovery. Industry recovery and resilience officers should be immediately deployed so they can provide short and long term recovery advice when it is needed and has the greatest benefit. To reduce the effects of natural disasters and to improve resilience, we need long-term, strategic recovery planning. This will help farmers recover faster, stronger and be better prepared for future events. The desire and evidence to support an immediate and efficient on-farm recovery program are there; we just need government support improve a tested but mature process.