REGROWTH: Cooloola Berries owner Jason (pictured) and Kim Lewis say they are unlikely to be eligible for available disaster support after last October's hail storm devastated their crops, but are confident of the community's support.
REGROWTH: Cooloola Berries owner Jason (pictured) and Kim Lewis say they are unlikely to be eligible for available disaster support after last October's hail storm devastated their crops, but are confident of the community's support. Renee Albrecht

Sparse help for region's farmers hit by 'hailnado'

NEWS that disaster funding is available for farmers devastated by the Gympie "hailnado" storm is likely to be cold comfort for the region's primary producers.

As a result of a farm's damage bill exceeding $240,000, extra support is being offered by the Federal and State governments through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

However, it seems the options - which include disaster relief loans and freight subsidies - might not be the best ones for Gympie farmers.

 

Kim Lewis assesses the storm damage at Cooloola Berries.
Kim Lewis assesses the storm damage at Cooloola Berries. Renee Albrecht

This includes the Carlsons, whose Mooloo bean crop was wiped out by the storm and the the rain that followed.

They were forced to lay off multiple workers right before picking was to start.

"We didn't pick for two weeks," Mark Carlson said. Mr Carlson said he was not aware of the NDRRA option, but doubted it offered salvation.

"You'd be stupid not to look, but I don't think we'd get anything," he said.

All in all, Mr Carlson said the damage was part and parcel of the industry.

"It's just what happens to you if you're a farmer; you get knocked down and then get back up again."

 

Avocado trees stripped by the hail.
Avocado trees stripped by the hail. Troy Jegers

Cooloola Berries' Kim Lewis was also sceptical her berry farm would fit the criteria.

Mrs Lewis said she had looked at these types of government assistance packages in the past, to no avail.

"Small scale farms are just not recognised in Queensland," she said.

 

Hail covers the region.
Hail covers the region. Contributed

And Mrs Lewis might not be alone in this thinking, she said, having heard on the grapevine other local farmers were considered "too geographically isolated" and not deemed eligible.

But if primary producers are disappointed, at least one group is likely to recoup something.

Last month, Gympie Regional Council said it expected to get more than two thirds of its $500,000 storm clean-up costs back via the funding.

Gympie Times


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