The NSW Government will support the apple growing industry by providing up to $3.5 million to clean-up apple orchards in Batlow and Bilpin, which were severely damaged by the recent bushfires.
Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said the NSW Government will cover the cost of removing dangerous trees and damaged protective netting and posts from apple orchards in the towns of Batlow in the Riverina region and Bilpin in the Hawkesbury region.
“Both Batlow and Bilpin were severely damaged in the recent bushfires which has left large hazardous trees and debris on apple orchards across these regions,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The Batlow orchards and processing facilities are a major local employer and tourist attraction for the district with events such as the annual Batlow CiderFest and Batlow Apple Blossom Festival.
“Bilpin is a significant fruit production and tourism area with local businesses opening their apple orchards to the general public and allowing hundreds of city-based families to experience active food production.
“Apple production alone contributes $30 million each year to the local economy.
“Without this clean-up, workers can’t return to orchards and undertake the essential work needed to help the apple trees recover from the fire. We will hire local contractors to assess and remove hazardous trees that may be a threat to safety.
“I want to see these important Australian businesses return to full production as soon as possible and we will continue to work with a range of primary industries that have been impacted.”
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said covering the cost of clean-up was just one thing the Government could do to help horticulturalists get back on their feet.
“We know apple and pear growers have been dealt a massive blow by the fires and it will take more than five years before they return to normal production,” Mr Marshall said.
“Covering the cost of clean-up means the recovery process can start sooner and there will be one less burden for affected primary producers to worry about.”
The NSW Department of Primary Industries will be contacting local orchardists to arrange for the clean-up.
The NSW Government has committed $1 billion over the next two years to rebuild infrastructure in bushfire-affected communities and is coordinating the clean-up of eligible residential and commercial buildings destroyed by bushfires at no cost to residents or businesses.