Help for Riverland growers facing crop losses from hail damage

Rural Business Support (RBS) is working to assist Riverland growers whose crops were damaged during a severe localised hail storm on November 4.

While the extent of the damage is still being assessed by Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), the storm around 5pm on Monday November 4 is reported by locals to have primarily affected wine grape crops.

RBS CEO Brett Smith has encouraged growers not to panic and to utilise the range of information and support available to help them manage the impact of this event, starting with seeking technical expertise from relevant government and industry bodies.

“We’ve taken calls from several concerned clients and our Rural Financial Counsellors (RFCs) will meet with them next week,” Mr Smith said. “But our overall message to growers based on our past experience is to step back, assess the damage and seek technical help, before thinking about at what point this event will be felt financially.

“Any income from the crops that have been affected would not have come in until March or April next year. There is time for growers to seek support on how to best utilise existing income and plan for the next season.”

Mr Smith said that working with a rural financial counsellor could help growers to make the decisions that would need to be made as a result of this event.

“There’s now work to be done that factors in water prices, water quotas and now reduced potential yields,” he said. “A rural financial counsellor can take growers through the financial modelling that can help in making these decisions. Talking with one of our team can help significantly, especially when growers are under strain financially and emotionally.

“We want to assure growers that there is assistance available to help them move forward once the initial shock settles. The maths may not necessarily be as bad as they first think.

“We want to remind growers that we’re here and to reach out to support organisations if they need help.”

Rural Business Support has worked with dozens of businesses affected by adverse weather events in the past few years, including Riverland growers after the spring floods of 2016 and Adelaide Hills apple and pear growers whose crops were hit by hailstorms in 2017 and 2018. Its Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) is free, independent and confidential.

If you are a grower looking for support please call Rural Business Support on 1800 836 211.

Media contact: Brett Smith, CEO Rural Business Support – 0412 630 015