NSW government confirms support for bushfire-affected growers

By Samuel Squire

Bushfire-affected wine regions in New South Wales are now able to access a new multi-million dollar support package initiated by the NSW state government to assist towards their recovery.

The $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package will provide direct assistance for the viticulture, forestry, horticulture and agriculture industries to rebuild.

The NSW Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall, says the support package will help agriculture industries recover and grow by “backing projects that retain and create jobs, strengthen local supply chains and support a return to production”.

Minister Marshall added, “The smoke haze from the bushfires hurt wine grape growing regions, which is why the NSW Government responded quickly by providing free smoke taint testing up to a cap of $1,200. This would normally cost a producer around $300 per test”.

“Wine grape growers can access the Special Disaster Bushfire – Grant program for the cost of removal and disposal of tainted grapes,” he said.

“This provides up to $75,000 to eligible primary producers in declared natural disaster areas. This is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NSW Government.”

The NSW Wine Industry Association (NSW WIA) had over recent months worked closely with the state government to initiate funding grants and loans for growers who have lost their crops due to the bushfires and resultant smoke taint.

NSW WIA executive officer Angus Barnes said growers in a number of areas of the state had been granted access to the funding.

“We have managed to lobby successfully with the NSW state government and have now initiated grants and loan schemes for growers affected by fire and smoke.”

“Growers who have had smoke taint tests conducted on their samples have received rebates for those costs from the State Government,” Barnes added.

Juliet Cullen, president of the Tumbarumba Vignerons Association, says her region – which was directly affected by bushfire – has now received financial assistance from the NSW government funding for smoke taint, however it was understood that Canberra growers missed out because fire had not gone through the region.

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Image: Johansen Wines in Tumbarumba was blanketed in smoke following bushfire activity in the region over summer, courtesy of Johansen Wines.