DEVASTATION: Canegrowers Queensland chief executive officer Steve Greenwood with Maryborough manager Trevor Turner and Maryborough board member Jeff Atkinson, after the floodwaters receded.
DEVASTATION: Canegrowers Queensland chief executive officer Steve Greenwood with Maryborough manager Trevor Turner and Maryborough board member Jeff Atkinson, after the floodwaters receded. Contributed

Wide Bay cane growers estimate losses at $144 million

CANE growers in the Wide Bay will be left out of pocket by up to $144 million after flooding devastated their crops.

Hardest hit sugarcane growers have been in the Maryborough, Bundaberg and Childers areas, after floods and rain ravaged pockets of cane land.

Canegrowers Maryborough estimated the initial damage state-wide to the industry was between $110 million and $160 million. About 90% of that was in the Wide Bay region, totalling $144 million.

The Federal Government announced in February it would release Category D support to primary producers who had been affected by the disaster.

We have cane paddocks littered with trees, boats and bits of sheds. Water flow throughout affected districts is being hindered by debris piled up in creeks and needs to be cleared as a priority.

Canegrowers Maryborough manager Trevor Turner said the activation of Category D funding was essential in rebuilding the industry.

"This latest package of Category D support measures will help those who have been hardest hit and badly need assistance in getting their operations up and running again," he said.

Category D is a loan, including a grant of up to $50,000.

The first two years of the loan would be interest and repayment free, and from the third year of the loan an interest rate of 1.7% would apply.

The expected bumper crop was boosted by the January rain, which was a blessing to the industry, following a dry spell lasting months.

But the rain continued, severely inundating many growers property in the region. Mr Turner said the clean-up effort would be massive.

"We have cane paddocks littered with trees, boats and bits of sheds," he said. "Water flow throughout affected districts is being hindered by debris piled up in creeks and needs to be cleared as a priority."

In 2011, just under than 7000 tonnes of sugarcane was produced in the central Queensland district.



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