Apple, wine growers can receive grant funding in bushfire recovery

Recovery: Central west orchardist and NSW Farmers Horticulture chair Guy Gaeta said the funding was welcoming news. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
Recovery: Central west orchardist and NSW Farmers Horticulture chair Guy Gaeta said the funding was welcoming news. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Wine and apple growers impacted by bushfire smoke will be able to qualify for support after the government announced $36 million in grants funding.

The funding is part of the government's National Bushfire Recovery assistance. Central west orchardist and NSW Farmers Horticulture chair Guy Gaeta said the funding was "welcoming news."

The cherry and apple grower from Orange said many of the state's orchardist's were affected by bushfire smoke so was sure they would be "over the moon" to receive help.

Mr Gaeta has been an orchardist for more than 35 years and said it is nice to be recognised as part of the agricultural community.

"Just to be recognised that you do put into the community and small towns," he said. "It does not matter what you grow or what you produce, you're farmers who are producing food."

The grower said the horticulture industry must be supported so family farms can continue.

"When I came to Orange in 1986 there was 252 orchardist, I think now there is barely 32. But in saying that the fewer farmers are producing just as much (produce)," Mr Gaeta said.

Calare MP Andrew Gee said it has been a tough year for country communities, with the impacts of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 hitting primary producers hard.

"Wine grape and apple growers were no exception," Mr Gee said.

"The impacts of the bushfires have been devastating, with approximately 60,000 tonnes of the wine grape harvest lost due to smoke taint, and approximately 170.5 hectares of apple orchards needing to be replaced."

Mr Gee said wine grape and apple producers are vital to regional prosperity, investment and economic growth.

"In the central west, our acclaimed wine producers attract wine enthusiasts from across the globe - putting tourism dollars back into our local community and creating jobs," he said.

"Not every grape producer or orchardist will require this funding but it's good to know it is there if it is needed.

"That's why the Australian Government is committed to helping our primary producers by providing targeted relief to the sectors."

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