Citrus damage bill from flood expected to top $100 million

CITRUS growers in Gayndah have been devastated with floods having wiped out orchards causing damaged estimated at more than $100million.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney visited the region yesterday and said everyone in the farming industry was trying to grapple with the enormity of the disaster.

"I think it's going to be a huge impact for all growers; every farmer in every industry will be affected. Nobody is exempt," he said.

"The citrus growers are devastated - there will be a huge impact on small business."

North Burnett mayor Don Waugh said the amount of damage to the region was "just unbelievable".

Cr Waugh said the growers were absolutely devastated by the floods after suffering extensive crop damage from hail only weeks earlier.

"We had a meeting this morning and they were almost beyond help. They've been suffering low prices for years and all the supermarkets will do is look to see where they can source overseas," he said.

"Farmers are feeling totally forgotten - it nearly makes me cry."

Citrus grower Megan Roth of Novacott said that, as with the hail, her orchard had been impacted severely.

"After the hail our crops were damaged; now pretty much all that's left is ruined," she said.

"I don't know what to think or which way to turn."

Mrs Roth said the majority of their trees were under water and covered in mud.

"We've lost 70% of our trees; they're completely gone," she said.

"These are trees that are 15 to 20 years old; you can't just replace them."

Mrs Roth said they will would to reassess where they were at now and what they were going to do with their business.

"Our irrigation pumps have washed away, trees are half out of the ground in some paddocks; there is nothing left," she said.

"It's like a bulldozer has gone through and pushed them all up - it's devastating," she said.

"At this stage it's a disaster. We're really considering what to do - our business is doubtful."

Growcom chairman Alex Livingstone said it was too early to predict the full impact of the flood on produce suppliers.

"It's a matter of letting the water go down and seeing what Mother Nature has left," he said.

Mr Livingstone said the damage cost was estimated to be more than $100million.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers executive officer Peter Hockings agreed.

"The damage bill will probably be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It's not just crops, it's irrigations and sheds etcetera," he said.

"A lot of farmers beside the riverbanks would have seen nothing but tree-tops sticking above water."

Mr Hockings said the wait was now on for the water to recede and establish what was lost and what was recoverable.

"The industry is working hard together to get recovery and clean up action under way," he said, and sent a message to farmers.

"Please be calm and patient, we're doing what we can," he said.

He said that with many tree crops inundated there was a real risk of fungal disease and root rot.

Mr Hockings said it was too early to tell whether fruit and vegetable prices would rise.



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