Kerry Handford, Secretary of the North Coast Oilseed Growers Association (right), with Garry Joblin, Ballina Fishermans Co-op P
Kerry Handford, Secretary of the North Coast Oilseed Growers Association (right), with Garry Joblin, Ballina Fishermans Co-op P

Flood cost hits home as farm bill mounts

By Jamie Brown jamie.brown@northernstar.com.au MEMBER for Lismore Thomas George will lead a delegation of district farmers, fishermen and politicians to Sydney next week calling for substantial financial flood relief.

At a meeting in Lismore yesterday the full brunt of the big wet on primary producers was revealed for the first time.

Industry leaders told local politicians 80 cane farms, 40 dairy farms and more than 120 farms with soy, corn and beef had been financially cruelled by the worst flood since 1954 in the upper Richmond.

Twelve lower river fishermen faced a likely six months with no income and probably much longer, after authorities officially closed the river to professional and recreational angling yesterday.

Unlike the Clarence, which has benefited from the flood, the Richmond has been dealt a terrible blow.

North Coast Oilseed Growers' Association secretary Kerry Handford said soy and corn farmers from Woodburn to Woodenbong would lose $2 million in planting costs with nearly 3000 hectares flood-affected.

Adding insult to injury, the price for crushed soybean this year was expected to reach $616 a tonne. Estimated loss of revenue for those soy and corn growers is $7.5 million.

With the summer planting season slipping away, and no sign of relief from damp weather, it is likely affected bean and corn paddocks will lie fallow until next May, when winter cereal crops are planted.

"For some the soy and corn losses follow the critical loss of their barley crop by hail last October," Mr Handford told the meeting.

Cane farmers in the Mid-Richmond and Tweed face a loss of $1.6 million in planting costs from 1600 affected hectares, apart from damage to cane bin loading pads, drains and levy banks.

Estimated loss of revenue is more than $5 million. NSW Cane Growers' secretary Andrew Tickle said cane must be replanted as soon as possible to ensure a bagasse supply for Broadwater's co-generation plant.

NORCO CEO Murray Richardson said 40 dairy farms were affected along the Upper Richmond, with loss of feed and damage to fencing and laneways estimated at $1.4 million.

Thirteen of those farms faced 'significant forage issues'. "There are a million issues we could talk about but these are the critical ones," Mr Richardson said.

Beef growers were the least affected, although cattle in the Coraki area were now starting to show signs of liver fluke disease.



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