Primary producers in southern Queensland will soon have support from specialised resilience officers to help them recover from recent natural disasters, and plan for future events.
The $2.5 million Industry Recovery and Resilience Officer (IRRO) program will support primary producers in 22 Local Government Areas (LGAs) impacted by disaster events; Balonne, Banana, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cherbourg, Fraser Coast, Gold Coast, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Noosa, North Burnett, Scenic Rim, Somerset, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Western Downs.
The extraordinary disaster assistance is being provided through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Senator the Hon Murray Watt said the recovery was a priority for Queensland primary producers and small business owners who had been impacted by a number of disaster events since November 2021.
“Multiple heavy rain and flood events have caused widespread damage to primary production and the agriculture sector across large areas of central and southern Queensland, the Wide Bay-Burnett, and south east Queensland areas,” Minister Watt said.
“To assist in short-term recovery and long-term resilience, four Industry Recovery and Resilience Officers will be employed through agricultural industry groups and Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups for up to two years to work with industry, local governments and impacted producers.
“The officers will provide support for primary producers for short, medium and longer-term recovery needs, including assistance to develop industry-specific, risk-based, on-farm disaster resilience and recovery plans.”
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the IRRO program would initially focus on recovery activities.
“During the first six months, the IRROs will help primary producers access services, grants and other activities to assist their recovery, with the following 18 months devoted to assisting producers develop resilience plans for their business,” Mr Furner said.
“Central to their work will be helping primary producers to better determine the risk to the crops, infrastructure, and land from the potential impact of climate driven disasters and then develop appropriate risk mitigation strategies.”
Mr Furner said as happened following previous disasters such as Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) would work with industry and the relevant NRM groups to deliver the IRRO program.
“Under the program, DAF and the IRROs will work with the most impacted producers in areas heavily impacted by flood events.
“IRROs will work collaboratively with all industry sectors to develop plans based on flood scenario mapping, existing tools and methodology, workshops, and face-to-face meetings.
“The plans will then be implemented by producers with assistance from industry groups, regional NRM groups, local government and agricultural consultants.”