Apple and pear industry bodies, Government and service providers are working together to provide growers hit by the destructive Adelaide Hills hail storms of October 30 with support and advice to manage hail-affected crops.
Susie Green, of the Apple and Pear Growers Association of South Australia (APGASA), said with damage assessments now completed, the focus was on identifying how best to assist growers to manage crops and businesses going forward.
A grower meeting was held on November 10 to outline crop management options and more events were planned for later this month.
She said APGASA had been in contact with all levels of government to work through what assistance could be provided to industry, with Ministers from both State and Federal levels visiting the area to get a first-hand understanding of the issue.
Growers were also encouraged to contact their banks early as the hail event would have an impact on the business for several years and some banks or financial institutions may offer special financial packages for disaster-affected businesses.
APGASA has also begun engaging with the banking sector to ensure that they are aware of the circumstances and to seek support for growers.
Discussions were also underway regarding possible marketing approaches for hail-affected fruit.
“There is no doubt that this event will create a whole raft of challenges for industry, both at the individual orchard level, as well as with supply logistics, packing and marketing,” she said.
“As we gain a clearer understanding of the extent of damage, we will be continuing our efforts to lobby for the types of assistance that will provide the most benefit to industry.”
Susie said a comprehensive damage assessment across the region carried out in conjunction with Lenswood Co-operative and E.E. Muir & Sons across 38 businesses and 173 blocks had shown that the hail storms that swept through the region on October 30 had affected more than 95 per cent of growers in the region, with significant damage and high losses on many blocks.
Blocks that were under hail net typically showed much lower levels of damage. There was also variation in impact between varieties.
- 95% of businesses assessed were impacted to some degree.
- Geographic impact was widespread, with damage across all production areas except for Coromandel Valley.
- Estimated 810 ha of apples and 110 ha of pears under production in the Adelaide Hills.
- Approximately 132 ha under net, of which 120 ha was closed.
- Damage under net varied, from none to significant, depending on netting type, variety and location.
Growers seeking more details on the damage assessment should contact Susie Green.
Cherries: Susie said reports of damage to cherry crops had varied, with many growers reporting some damage, but due to the fine nature of the hail, some confidence that an average crop could still be achieved.
Cherry Growers SA urge any growers who have been severely impacted by hail to let them know.
Banks: Growers are advised to engage early with banks as the hail event will impact on your business for several years. Some banks and financial institutions may offer special financial packages after a disaster. APGASA has also begun engaging with the banking sector to ensure that they are aware of the circumstances and to seek support for growers. Banks requiring further information on the whole-of-industry impact should be referred to Susie Green.
Rural Financial Counselling Service: offer free and independent financial information, options, decision support and referral services. This service provides free rural financial counselling and can assist farmers to make informed decisions and work through the implications of the current situation for their business. Adelaide Hills rural financial counsellor Chris Turner is available on 0437 321 107 or 1800 836 211.
Government assistance: APGASA is working through what other financial assistance may be available through government. In the meantime, the following support services that are available now:
- Department of Primary Industries and Regions, SA (PIRSA) has a Hotlline number 1800 255 556 for any direct enquiries.
- Household and Individual Support Farm Household Allowance – Call 13 23 16 – Income support payment, available to eligible farmers and their families experiencing financial hardship.
Mental health and wellbeing support
APGASA is urging growers to look out for themselves, each other and family members. Beware warning signs such as difficulty sleeping and reach out for help if you need it. Your local General Practitioner can also refer you to appropriate support.
The Australian Red Cross is offering outreach services, where they are in the area and able to be a friendly ear if you need someone to talk with.
There are a range of other support services available:
- Lifeline – 13 11 13
- Beyondblue – 1300 224 636
- Healthdirect: SA Health – 1800 022 222
- MensLine Australia – 1300 789 978
- Relationships Australia – 08 8582 4122
- Kids Help Line – 1800 551 800
- Headspace Program – 1800 063 267
- Emergency Mental Health Assistance and Information – Country Health SA – 13 14 65
There is a range of technical information and assistance available to help you with the decision making and management processes ahead. E.E. Muir & Sons have provided outstanding first response support to industry.
Further information: Resources compiled for Victorian Goulburn Valley growers after the 2016 hail event can be found here.
Information supplied by Susie Green, at the Apple and Pear Growers Association of South Australia.