UNITED: Macadamia farmer John Underhill’s property was devastated in the storms earlier this year, resulting in the loss of some of his crop.
UNITED: Macadamia farmer John Underhill’s property was devastated in the storms earlier this year, resulting in the loss of some of his crop. Patrick Gorbunovs

Farmers become ‘storm troopers’

FARMERS across the Northern Rivers are uniting to encourage primary producers to report storm damage across the region in order to secure government assistance.

Following a meeting last week, macadamia, banana, sugar, avocado and dairy farmers have joined forces to ensure local government areas (LGA's) of Ballina, Byron, Richmond Valley and Kyogle receive Category C disaster assist- ance following floods and storms in January and February.

Australian Macadamia Society (AMS) CEO Jolyon Burnett said Ballina, Byron, Richmond Valley and Kyogle LGA's criteria for Category C disaster funding could be met if more farmers submit their figures urgently.

"These LGAs bore the brunt of the same storms," he said.

"In most cases the damage is comparable and in many cases it is worse than neighbouring LGAs who have now received assistance.

"Many farmers have been so distressed and under pressure to clean up the damage that they have not yet submitted their damage claims."

"The disaster assistance process is complicated, cumbersome and frustrating and we are concerned that not all farmers in these LGAs have reported their damage and loss."

Mr Burnett said submissions made by farmers in from Byron and Ballina LGAs to the Department of Primary Industries did not give the full picture of damage in the region.

Mr Burnett's views were echoed by Far North Coast Dairy Industry Chairman Leigh Shearman.

"The last thing most farmers are thinking about after a flood is filling out forms or sending emails," he said.


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