BIG BILL: Irrigation and other farm equipment were damaged after storms whipped through the region last week.
BIG BILL: Irrigation and other farm equipment were damaged after storms whipped through the region last week. Jodie Dixon

Storms leave us with $150m in crop damage

THE early damage bill estimate from last week's ferocious storms is in - and it could be at least $150 million.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers executive officer Peter Hockings said while the path of the hailstorms and severe winds had been fickle - which spared some in the region - it had wreaked enormous damage on trees and smallcrops from Cordalba to the Elliott River.

Mr Hockings said the hardest-hit crops were macadamias, avocados, tomatoes, capsicums and melons, with damage ranging from soil erosion and broken infrastructure through to complete crop destruction.

He said at this point a $150 million damage bill could be a "conservative estimate".

"It was very localised, which was good in one respect and bad in another," Mr Hockings said.

"One grower pretty much lost 90% at one end of the orchard and 35% at the other end."

To add insult to injury, he said many of the crops had been due for harvest; meaning heartbreaking and large losses for the affected growers.

Mr Hockings said there was likely to be little financial assistance available to the growers to aid their recovery because of the localised nature of the storm, but he said BFVG would do what it could to ensure the growers were supported as they started rebuilding.

"These growers have not only lost this year's crops, but also their trees - which can take five years to replant and grow - so it's a fair chunk of income," he said.

"They'll do what they can to get production up and running again, while keeping people employed."

Mr Hockings said he hoped there would not be a huge impact on supply and prices of all the affected crops, given it was a relatively small area that was damaged.

"It's important that consumers don't panic, but there might be some localised limited supply this year while growers are trying to get back to full production," he said.

"The consumer can help by buying product when it does become available."



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