Farmers call for natural disaster declaration
NSW Farmers is calling for natural disaster declarations to allow relief funds to flow as torrential rains continue to soak vast parts of the state, causing widespread flood damage.
State and federal leaders had pledged to make disaster assistance available to affected communities after flooding in the Lachlan Valley last week, but since then farming regions right across the state had been inundated, with predictions of further flooding in already-drenched areas.
NSW Farmers Grains Committee Chair Justin Everitt said members across the state were reporting paddocks underwater, with the focus moving from saving the harvest to minimising damage to the land.
“We’ve had several heavy falls now and there’s no doubt crops will be downgraded and we’ll see significant losses,” Mr Everitt said.
“Part of farming is dealing with nature, but it is cruel for our growers to watch these amazing crops – this potential income after so many years of drought – drowned before they could be harvested.
“We urgently need a range of measures to help people start to clean up and get on with their lives.”
Declarations of natural disasters would allow government grants and concessional loans to be handed out, while additional support for local government will be needed to repair flood-damaged roads, particularly in regional communities. Mr Everitt also said targeted mental health support should be brought online as quickly as possible.
“If you’re not in a farming or small rural community it’s hard to understand the impact this sort of weather has on people,” Mr Everitt said.
“You look at the sky and try to predict what will happen in the next year, then you spend a huge amount of money sowing a crop in the hope it will pay off for you and your family.
“Watching those paddocks go under, that’s bank repayments, school fees, Christmas presents going under as well, all those hopes swallowed up by all that water.”
Date: Thursday, November 25, 2021
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