Griffith farmers are still waiting for advice and support from local, state and federal levels of government five weeks after hail caused mass devastation across citrus farms and crops.
Member for Murray Helen Dalton met with NSW Farmers representative Dan Brear, president of Griffith Citrus Growers Vito Mancini and local farmer Phillip Andreatta to discuss and observe the damage firsthand.
Mr Mancini explained that the hailstorms had led to 20 or 30 per cent of produce being rendered unsellable, and hundreds of thousands dollars lost to clean-up efforts.
"It could be three to five years before yields are back to what they were."
Mr Andreatta saw widespread damage to his farm out in Lake Wyangan from the hailstorms, and has been struggling with how to recover.
"Nobody knows what to do, it's so severe," he said.
Mr Mancini estimated the cost to fix the damage to Mr Andreatta's trees and land at a hundred thousand dollars, even before accounting for the lost income.
He explained that the response from the Department of Primary Industries and Resilience NSW had been disappointing.
"We started with DPI collecting survey data, we've had no support in collecting that data and then forwarding it to Resilience NSW has been a challenge ... Resilience NSW needs to get out there with support for the farmers, that's my biggest disappointment."
After the disappointments of the last weeks, he's moved on to both providing immediate assistance to farmers and ensuring that help comes faster next time.
"The circles I've had to go through, it's highlighted the inadequacies of the system ... It's about making sure that the next time something happens, we're not waiting."
"Packages need to come quick, and the package doesn't go far enough to be really helpful," he added.
"The second thing is the labour shortage, and that's not necessarily a farming issue. We can get the money, but then how does he get the help? If we do get the funding, how do we use it effectively?"
It's highlighted the inadequacies of the system ... It's about making sure that the next time something happens, we're not waiting.- Vito Mancini
Ms Dalton observed the damage, and promised to be contacting Robert Kelly from Local Land Services in an effort to 'rattle cages.'
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Mr Mancini said that he was still fielding calls on a daily basis from farmers needing assistance, and that he was seeing significant mental health challenges that he wasn't always equipped to help.
"Some people wouldn't drive on the farm for a few days," he said.
"I couldn't bring myself to see it," said Mr Andreatta.
"Just need that confidence that the government is looking at us and that things are happening," Mr Mancini said.
"It might be blue-sky thinking, I dunno if we could get help with labour from the army reserves or somebody. It has to be done now, we can't wait two years for labour to get back to normal."
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