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TAS Country : February 3rd 2011
6 Tasmanian Country Friday, February 4, 2011 TFGA Help at hand for flood-ravaged farmers TFGA matters with Jan Davis INUNDATED: A North- West Coast property under water after recent flooding. THE recent floods in Tasmania have created havoc across large parts of the state. While not on the same scale as the devastation on the mainland, they have caused farmers serious financial, physical and emotional distress. The TFGA understands the dire position many farmers find themselves in as a result of this disaster, especially when combined with poor commodity prices, a late spring and the aftermath of a long drought. After the floods, there seemed to be little recognition of the extent of the damage and there was no sense that there would be a government response to help farmers. We felt it important farmers were able to access assistance or at least let them assess what damage they had suffered before a clean-up could start. We have done a lot of work collating damage assessments and taking this information to the State Government. It agreed the impact would have serious economic implications and asked the Federal Government to trigger the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. The TFGA welcomed confirmation of NDRAA grants for Tasmanian farmers. Under this program, the federal and state governments will jointly fund grants, worth up to $25,000. Eligible farmers who have suffered direct damage can apply for these grants to help remove debris and restore infrastructure and the like. The information and application form can be found at: www.tfga.com.au/index.asp?p=125 We are compiling a comprehensive picture of the infrastructure damage and crop impacts. In particular, the TFGA is continuing to gather information to see what other avenues of assistance might be available. One of the first formal engagements undertaken by Premier Lara Giddings was an inspection of the damage caused by flooding on the North-West Coast. Ms Giddings and the Minister for Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Bryan Green visited farmers whose crops were destroyed. Ms Giddings acknowledged that a considerable clean-up effort needed to be undertaken as quickly as possible to minimise damage that might stretch into multiple seasons. She has also publicly called for Tasmanians to continue to buy local produce to ensure that our farmers are supported. We have stressed to the State Government that there are some immediate things that need to be done to ease pressure on farmers. They need to look at what can be done to defer payments due on water in new irrigation schemes. Farmers will need every dollar they have to get back to square one and certainly won't have spare cash to fund business expansion for the time being. Yet they need to be able to take advantage of these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. After discussions with DPIPWE, arrangements to assess and repair damaged dams have been reviewed. This means that, in most cases, repairs should proceed without the needs for permits. Sadly, any assistance farmers get will only be a drop in the bucket -- it certainly won't go anywhere near covering costs. Farmers will struggle to recover from this latest hit to their livelihoods -- and their lives.
January 27th 2011
February 10th 2011