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Four new initiatives to support the forestry industry, wine producers and apple growers hit by the bushfires and the effects of COVID-19

Four new initiatives to support the forestry industry, wine producers and apple growers hit by the bushfires and the effects of COVID-19

MEDIA RELEASE
23 Jun 2020
Prime Minister, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism

Four new initiatives to support the forestry industry, wine producers and apple growers hit by the bushfires and the effects of COVID-19 are set to form a major plank in the rebuilding effort in communities across Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the $86 million worth of new targeted grants would support some of Australia’s hardest hit primary producers.

“This is about helping communities build back better,” the Prime Minister said.

“As our communities battle to overcome the effects of drought, bushfires and now COVID-19, it’s initiatives like these that will also help accelerate economic recovery and ultimately deliver more jobs to the regions.

“With more than $1.4 billion in recovery and relief already rolling out to bushfire-affected communities for everything from direct hardship payments and support to clear debris, through to wildlife rescue and financial counselling, these new programs will help our forestry industry, and apple and wine growers take the next step on their recovery.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the agricultural and forestry sectors form the foundation of our food and fibre security. They are also key to jobs and prosperity in many communities affected by the 2019-20 bushfires.

This new funding adds to the Government’s commitment of $448.5 million for projects identified by communities as part of their local economic recovery plans, and the $15 million investment to help forestry industries transport and store the high volume of bushfire-affected trees.

The Government is also working closely with the forestry industry to participate in the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund to boost outcomes for the environment, spur investment and create jobs.

“Our Government understands the importance of primary producers to regional economies and community recovery,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The devastating bushfires earlier this year impacted more than 2 million hectares of Australia’s productive forests and our forestry industries are faced with the prospect of wood shortages in major timber regions.

“This assistance acknowledges that the impact on wine grapes extends beyond the fire scar. In some cases, smoke taint from the bushfires has led to a loss of the harvest for the 2020 vintage, estimated to be around 60,000 tonnes lost.

“Our apple producers have suffered significant impacts with Apple and Pear Australia Limited estimating that 170.5 hectares of apple orchards needing to be replaced. To put this into perspective, each hectare can cost around $360,000 to replace, and take up to five years to produce income again.

“As we work to support individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19, we haven’t forgotten about communities and industries affected by the bushfires. Today’s announcement will bring some much needed support to some specific industries.” Minister Littleproud said.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said the regional impacts of the bushfires on Australia’s forestry industry could be felt for decades, which was why the Morrison Government is taking action now.

“The $40 million Forestry Recovery Development Fund will secure and create jobs, especially in our regional communities that have been hardest hit by the bushfires,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“With this fund, the forestry industry will be able future-proof with innovative investments in new or existing facilities and technology, or assisting in transitioning to smarter, more efficient practices that value-add along the supply-chain.

“The fund will underpin a sustainable recovery that ensures Australia’s forestry industry is productive, profitable and internationally competitive into the future. “On top of this, $10 million will be invested in the establishment of storage facilities for processed wood products, fire-affected salvage logs, and other forestry products in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

“We’ll continue to work with industries as they navigate these challenging times.”

The additional bushfire relief measures form part of the economic recovery effort and include:

  • A $40 million Forestry Recovery Development Fund for competitive grants that support processors to navigate future wood supply shortages through innovation and product diversification.
  • $10 million for the establishment of storage facilities for processed timber products, fire-affected logs and other forestry products. The fund will produce additional certainty for mills and help businesses plan their long-term recovery.
  • A $5 million fund for grants up to $10,000, matched by a co-contribution, for wine grape producers who experienced crop loss because of smoke taint from the Black Summer bushfires in wine regions that aren’t currently activated for the $75,000 primary producer grants.
  • A $31 million fund for grants of $120,000 per hectare for bushfire impacted apple growers. This program complements the support provided by the NSW government.

Further information about bushfire relief funding can be found here:  bushfirerecovery.gov.au.

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Australian Government Media Release