Smoke taint relief extended

24 June, 2020 by Andy Young

Australian Grape & Wine has welcomed the Government’s $5m grant program to support wine producers who suffered crop loss as a result of smoke taint caused by last summer’s bushfires.

Nominated smoke impacted wine regions, which are currently activated for the $75,000 primary producer grants, will be able to access this latest round of support. These grants form part of $86m worth of new targeted grants from the Government to support some of Australia’s hardest hit primary producers.

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Australian Grape & Wine Chief Executive, Tony Battaglene said: “Australian wine producers are renowned for producing high quality wine grapes and given the focus on maintaining this high standard of product, many producers made the devastating choice not to pick.

“This initiative will help those growers who were unable to sell grapes due to smoke damage – the outcome for our sector’s reputation was positive but the cost to individual growers was high – this will help address that.”

It is estimated that up to 60,000 tonnes of wine grapes were not picked due to smoke damage from the 2019/2020 summer bushfires.

“We have been advocating very strongly for bushfire relief to include smoke affected producers and commend the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, for activating this assistance package,” Battaglene said.

In announcing the grants, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “This is about helping communities build back better.

“As our communities battle to overcome the effects of drought, bushfires and now COVID-19, it’s initiatives like these that will also help accelerate economic recovery and ultimately deliver more jobs to the regions.

“With more than $1.4bn in recovery and relief already rolling out to bushfire-affected communities for everything from direct hardship payments and support to clear debris, through to wildlife rescue and financial counselling, these new programs will help our forestry industry, and apple and wine growers take the next step on their recovery.”

For producers to be eligible for the Smoke Taint Grants, they will need to demonstrate a smoke taint result from an eligible smoke taint test (or similar evidence); and at least a 40 per cent decline in income since 1 August 2019.

Applicants will not be required to prove the decline in income is specifically related to the bushfires. The Australian Government acknowledges the impossibility of separating the cumulative effects of the bushfires and COVID-19.

Businesses who have accessed the $10,000 Small Business Bushfire Support Grant are not eligible to access the Smoke Taint Grant.

For details on the grants visit:  https://www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au/