More frustration for grape growers

A MEETING between grape growers and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) about the fall-out from the worst frost in 50 years yielded more pessimism than promise.

Growers expressed their frustration over the state government's unwillingness to offer any disaster relief and discussed their general concerns with financial and psychological counsellors.

The attendees were unanimous in their resolve to provide detailed information of their losses to the DPI, but were sceptical the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, would respond.

Yenda grape-grower Peter Raccanello said the bulk of the attendees regularly attended similar meetings to no avail.

"We keep coming to these meetings but nothing happens," Mr Raccanello said.

"There are no young blokes here because their parents aren't letting them stay in the grape-growing industry to make sure they don't go through all this stress. This comes after the Code of Conduct was written by Coles and Woolworths to suit themselves and the government has agreed to it, which is a huge problem for suppliers."

Rural financial counsellor Kevin McCrum was on hand to outline what assistance was available to growers.

Mr McCrum said an income support payment called "transitional farm family payment" available to farmers with less than $20,000 in liquid assets had recently been granted to a number of Griffith families.

"There are people with total wipeouts who won't get any income for 12 months," he said.

"The feeling I'm getting from most governments is they're not prepared to go back to drought-relief style funding.

"Government assistance is getting thinner and thinner."

"It's obviously putting a lot of pressure on people and the last thing we want is people getting very depressed or worse, so you need to look out for your mates."

DPI rural support worker, Danny Byrnes, told the growers the only way to put any pressure on the government was to paint a detailed picture of the damage to their grapes.

"I'm not saying something will happen but I can guarantee if no one puts a form in, nothing will happen," Mr Byrnes said. "The more noise you can make, the more likely the government will listen."

Farmers effected by the black frost can pick up a damage report form from the DPI website or Yenda Prods.

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