By Ian Atkinson – CEO Nursery & Garden Industry Queensland (NGIQ)
Queensland a state of contrasts
Queensland is certainly a state of contrasts at the moment with a large part of western Queensland still in drought but record-breaking floods in the south-east corner of the state. As background to those of you unfamiliar with the nursery industry in Queensland, I will start with a few facts. There are over 1,000 production nurseries or growers in Queensland and in recent years the total farm gate value of production has exceeded $1 billion (https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/strategic-direction/datafarm/qld-agtrends), making it one of the largest horticultural industries in the state. The vast majority of growers are with 120km of Brisbane city, so the recent wet weather has impacted many growers.
The most widespread disruption came from road closures, including the Bruce Hwy to the north and the Pacific Hwy to NSW. These road closures lasted for over a week and disrupted freight movement as well as the movement of staff and inputs such as growing media. When you see that over 30% of production is sold into southern markets, you begin to understand the scale of this disruption. Most businesses will have lost one to two weeks trading but others probably more. A few businesses used the time to good advantage and were able to pot-up a lot of stock.
Then there was the direct flooding of a couple of dozen businesses which in some instances was devastating. Imagine having over 2m of filthy, fast- flowing water over your site and through your buildings. The only positive was the rapid response from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) working with NGIQ to offer support to affected businesses. Grants of up to $75,000 are available to assist growers with immediate losses and clean-up costs, as well as concessional loans (0.8%) for cashflow over the next twelve months or so.