Article by: Hari Yellina
The Queensland agricultural produce supply chain is wrestling with how the latest weather event would impact the business both short and long term, with the Brisbane Markets flooded. Rain came and flood waters swelled to overwhelm the central markets hub, which processes over 700 million kg of produce worth more than $2 billion, as they did in many other parts of south east Queensland and northern New South Wales. Visitors to the Brisbane Markets website were advised that the market was closed until further notice in a post on the website. The webpage stated, “Due to flood levels at the Brisbane Markets and the suspension of road access to the property, Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) requests that you do not attempt to approach the Brisbane Markets until further notice.”
During the 2011 floods, the Rocklea-based operation was completely flooded. Growers in the hardest-hit areas, particularly in the Gatton area, are still analysing the damage, but entire crops have been devastated and agricultural infrastructure has been washed away. Growcom policy and advocacy manager Richard Shannon said members had reported a variety of effects, including the inability to get harvest machines into soggy fields and food safety concerns where fruit had been soaking in water. Mr Shannon claimed that “low lying veg growers in the Lockyer have been completely swamped with 100% crop losses.” “Some have experienced severe erosion and damage to on-farm water storages, while others have had flooding through their packing shed.”
Just as the harvest was about to begin, a big weather storm affected crucial macadamia production areas. Growers with nuts on the ground have been washed away, according to Mr Shannon. Warren Elvery, the chair of NSW Farmers Lismore and a macadamia grower, said there will be significant losses as a result of the flooding, which he described as the worst he had ever seen. “In terms of quality and quantity, there will be significant losses in the business,” Mr Elvery said. “We received 347mm of rain overnight (February 27), and all of our efforts to improve our soil and prepare for harvest could be for naught.” He described the flood as a “sea of water” that came through. The flooding comes a year after a similar event wreaked havoc across the region, prompting government assistance that is continuing to flow even now.