COVID stimulus not tailored to those in drought

View From the Paddock: COVID stimulus not tailored to droughted

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It's been great to see governments stepping up to the plate, unveiling a number of stimulus packages to support a range of struggling industries and locals, but as we turn to concentrate on one major issue, we seem to have left another behind in the dust.

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Toowoomba Surat Basin Enterprise general manager Bruce McConnel

Toowoomba Surat Basin Enterprise general manager Bruce McConnel

The last few months have seen our region battling the impacts of this coronavirus pandemic.

Many businesses have closed their doors, there are rising unemployment rates, shortages in some supplies, and communities isolating to lower the spread.

It's been great to see our government stepping up to the plate, unveiling a number of stimulus packages to support a range of struggling industries and locals, but as we turn to concentrate on one major issue, we seem to have left another behind in the dust.

While many have been consumed by all things virus related, our farmers, producers and workers in the agricultural sector are still dealing with the perpetual uncertainty of the ongoing drought.

The stories we heard back to back for months of farmers and processors dealing with almost no rain, loss of cattle, and lack of income has been drowned out with stories of COVID-19.

Yet these families are still struggling as the February rain event becomes a memory.

Undeniably, COVID-19 has provided several opportunities for the sector.

We've seen prices increase since the start of the year, we've seen opportunities with certain products in high demand, and beef and horticultural prices remain high against historical averages. But these don't come without their challenges.

The government's financial response in relation to COVID, whilst great for many, does not cater for those in the agricultural sector continuing to suffer from the drought.

And neither should it - they are different scenarios.

However, with relatively small investments by federal and state governments to support working capital and lower the cost of borrowing, the Queensland and Australian agricultural sectors could see significant economic growth, employing more people and sending Australia food around the globe.

If we get this right the agricultural sector would be a key driving force in driving the nation's economic recovery.

- Toowoomba Surat Basin Enterprise, Food Leaders Australia general manager Bruce McConnel

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