Bushfire grants for hard-hit CQ farmers

Govt grants up to $25k are available to eligible farmers

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Fruit farms in the Livingstone Shire ravaged in the 2019 spring fires could be in the running for financial support to restock and replant

Robert Sikes lost more than 500 mango trees in the spring fires and is hopeful new grants will be broad-based.

Robert Sikes lost more than 500 mango trees in the spring fires and is hopeful new grants will be broad-based.

FRUIT grower Robert Sikes is keeping an "open mind" despite "pleasing" news Central Queensland farmers, who fell victim to the spring fires, could be supported financially.

Mr Sikes, Cobraball, lost more than 500 mango trees, fencing and valuable irrigation in the firestorm which roared through hilly and heavily vegetated country between Yeppoon and Rockhampton late last year.

Damage estimates to the Sikes farm range as high as $200,000.

Mr Sikes said it was "obviously very pleasing" to hear the worst hit farmers in the Livingstone Shire could access grants of up to $25,000 and hopes the support covers crops and labour. The financial assistance is being provided under Category C of the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

"I would like to see more detail about how the money could be invested before I get too carried away," Mr Sikes said.

"I've heard it could be used for stock and crops and that's good if, in my case, I can get new trees. But if it is just to cover the labour cost of planting new trees then it's a very different scenario.

"We had funding under Category C after Cyclone Marcia and that was expensive for us because it did not coverage everything and we lost only 50 trees back then but this time it's way over 500 trees lost. If it does not cover the provision of new trees and the like then we will be way out of pocket.

"Mind you I am happy with this and quietly optimistic it will work out."

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the grants would help farmers get back to work sooner.

"The bushfires seriously disrupted the Cobraball and Bungundarra communities and local fruit growers," Ms Landry said.

"I visited these properties with the Deputy Prime Minister (Michael McCormack) and (Water Resources) Minister (David) Littleproud and we were saddened to see the hundreds of thousands of dollars of fruit destroyed.

"These grants can go towards helping to repair, rebuild, replant and restock sooner in the short term instead of the long term.

"This could even be used to repair or replace fencing, hail netting, poly pipes, feed, stock and crops.

"Farmers just want to get back to work as soon as possible and this is a helping hand so they can get on with it."

The Category C level of assistance is in addition to the DRFA Category B assistance already available, which includes concessional loans of up to $250,000 and essential working capital loans of up to $100,000 and freight subsidies of up to $5,000 for the movement of stock, feed, machinery, fuel, water and building/fencing materials.

For more information on Category C assistance for primary producers in parts of Livingstone Shire, please phone the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority on 1800 623 946.

For information on the freight subsidies visit daf.qld.gov.au or phone the DAF Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.

Information on disaster assistance can be found on the Australian Government's Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au and the Queensland Government's Disaster Management website at www.disaster.qld.gov.au.


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