LOOKING BACK: In October, the Agricultural Minister David Littleproud and Nanango Member Deb Frecklington surveyed the damage at Kumbia's Easy 8 Orchards.
LOOKING BACK: In October, the Agricultural Minister David Littleproud and Nanango Member Deb Frecklington surveyed the damage at Kumbia's Easy 8 Orchards. Matt Collins

Stone fruit farmers still face hail storm recovery

AFTER a devastating hail storm struck the South Burnett in October last year, many farmers are still trying hard to get back on track.

A particular farm that had severe damage is Easy 8 Orchards, owned Teresa and Lindsay Francis.

Mrs Francis said they've been working hard to repair the damage ever since.

"Our initial concern was basically safeguarding the farm against disease and pests, and things like that. That was the immediate thing we were doing to save the farm after the hail first hit. Then we were basically just doing a clean-up," she said.

"But really, for us, it's all about the infrastructure that we lost."

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A major cost to Easy 8 Orchards was replacing the damaged hail netting.

"Our main thing at the moment is putting up hail netting to protect the trees that we've got. We're also cutting out trees to pull back the orchard size," Mrs Francis said.

"We're getting back on track slowly. My husband is meeting with bank managers and we've gotten quotes for hail netting too.

"There are a lot of options for hail netting, but at the end of the day, it can't be insured. It's a huge cost, but it's just one that we have to make sure is viable for the farm, so we can get back on our feet again."

Fortunately for Mr and Mrs Francis, they have received outstanding community support.

"It's been phenomenal, the personal help that we've received along with the support from businesses around the place. We live in a community that all kind of rallies in to get things happening," Mrs Francis said.

"We've had people giving us money so that we could go have a takeaway meal. It's all the little things like that, that really help you in those bad times.

"My little motto in life is 'in every negative situation, there will be a positive', and our positive is finding the great people around us who are willing to help us out."

Mr and Mrs Francis will be speaking about overcoming their challenges from the storm over the South Burnett Brisbane Breakfast to be held at the RSL on Wednesday, January 30.

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