With more than 300 applications submitted so far, additional staff have been drafted in to process applications for Natural Disaster Recovery Grants (Category C) from Queensland primary producers and businesses impacted by Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said QRAA had called on temporary staff to match an increase in the number of applications since Natural Disaster Recovery Grants (Category C) were activated three weeks ago (from Good Friday 14 April, 2017).
“To date, 103 applications have been approved to a total of more than $458,000, and the money is now flowing with increasing velocity,” he said.
“QRAA has received 316 applications for the Recovery Grants, including 162 from primary producers and 150 from small businesses and 6 applications from non-profit organisations so far.
“As with previous disasters, we expect these numbers to increase significantly over the coming days and weeks as those affected complete their clean-up and finalise applications.”
QRAA is committed to ensuring prompt service and processing of applications and currently has 11 dedicated staff in Brisbane and five in the regions processing clean-up grants and assisting producers with their applications.
Five temporary staff have commenced work, and a further four will be brought in on May 15 when demand is expected to increase further.
Category C grants provide eligible primary producers, small businesses and non-profit organisations with up to $25,000 for clean-up, restoration and recovery activities.
The impact of Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie on agriculture across Queensland is estimated at $450 million in lost or damaged crops and infrastructure.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries worked closely with peak agricultural organisations such as AgForce, Queensland Farmers Federation, Canegrowers and Growcom to assess the damage and determine the appropriate level of assistance to impacted producers.
“DAF and QRAA staff are continuing to work closely with producers and stakeholder organisations to assist eligible primary producers to make applications,” the Minister said.
Category C status has been approved for primary producers in the following regional council areas: Whitsunday, Mackay, Logan, Scenic Rim and part of Isaac, Livingstone, Central Highlands, Woorabinda, Gold Coast and Lockyer.
The closing date for Natural Disaster Recovery Grants is not until 13 October 2017.
Producers in all affected locations can also access Category B assistance, which includes concessional loans of up to $250,000 and essential working capital loans of up to $100,000 plus freight subsidies of up to $5,000. The loans are available from the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) at an interest rate of just 1.16%.
As of 5 May there have been also 21 applications for Category B loans submitted from primary producers, small business and non-profits of which 2 have so far been approved worth a total of $205,000.
As with previous cyclones, as primary producers complete their clean up and recovery many more are expected to lodge grant applications over coming weeks.
To assist businesses, QRAA has established a new online grants portal (accessible through QRAA’s website) where they can directly complete and submit their applications and supporting documentation.
Alternatively, primary producers or their advisors can still download the grant application form and guidelines from QRAA’s website to submit via email or post.
For more information on available grants and loans visit www.qraa.qld.gov.au or talk to QRAA on Freecall 1800 623 946 between 8.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday for any queries about your application or to connect you with a QRAA representative in your region.