Over-development, disaster threats to Hawkesbury farming

Hawkesbury primary producers and turf growers met with Shadow Agriculture Minister Julie Collins and Macquarie MP Susan Templeman to discuss ongoing challenges of flood and bushfire assistance as well as encroaching urban development, at Enniskillen Orchard, Grose Vale.

Ms Collins and Ms Templeman met with local orchard and wine makers along with agricultural educators before meeting turf farmers in Cornwallis.

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman and Shadow Agriculture Minister Julie Collins stand in the driveway of Cornwallis turf farm cleared of mud prior to its second inundation.

Saying our primary producers knew the challenges and opportunities of farming in the Hawkesbury, Ms Templeman said unfortunately our agriculture sector faced piecemeal primary production disaster support and too much red tape in seeking it.

“We need to see clarity around the payments, what things growers have to do to be eligible and what records they need to keep. There needs to be certainty about it, rather than a ‘wait and see’ approach which throws growers into limbo for weeks or months on end,” she said.

“Unfortunately, primary producers affected by flooding in the Hawkesbury fall through cracks in flood assistance, often because of their size … not all flooded farmers meet the turnover requirements and some have off-farm income that rules them out.

“Some of that is because of the nature of businesses and primary production here, in a peri-urban setting on smaller plots of land, so people miss out on being eligible even when they’ve suffered a direct hit.

“I wanted to give our primary producers the opportunity to discuss the difficulties they have been facing directly with Julie, because it’s something we need to address for the future.”

Other issues raised included the “disconnect” between federal, state and local government support and natural disaster resilience planning as well as over-development, and the threat to productive land west of the river.

“This area is always going to flood and we need to put plans in place for when it does. For the last decade or so there’s been no investment in resilience in our areas by this Liberal Government and nothing has changed in the most recent Budget.”

Main picture: The meeting held at Enniskillen Orchard in Grose Vale attended by local primary producers, Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman, and Shadow Agriculture Minister Julie Collins.


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