Fencing, feed and volunteers are being sought to aid dairyfarmers, beef and sheep producers in the areas impacted by the St Patrick’s Day fires in South West Victoria.
Nearly 300 farms were impacted and about 3000 kilometres of fencing was destroyed in the series of fires that hit the region.
Agriculture Victoria’s latest figures indicate 1434 kilometres of external boundary fencing and 1450km of internal fencing was destroyed.
Dairy Australia, the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), and BlazeAid are working together to coordinate aid in the form of materials as well as fodder and other requirements to affected landholders and livestock producers.
VFF president David Jochinke said the fodder drive was going extremely well.
A lot of credit goes to the generosity of the farming community as well as the local Lions Club which is helping coordinate the effort.
He said the quality of the feed was critical. Initially high-quality feed for feeding milking cows – high in protein, no weather damage – was needed and then lesser quality hay once cows were dried off.
“We encourage people to be mindful about hay quality and donate accordingly,” Mr Jochinke said.
“This typifies what agriculture should be about – helping one another when times are tough.”
Mr Jochinke said the other areas of need were pasture and water for dairy, beef and sheep producers.
He said they were working towards getting pasture seed into the area in the next month while the ground was still warm and sowing conditions were ideal.
The rain had helped and given people the confidence that the autumn break was getting closer and they could sow pasture and get a reasonable strike.
Mr Jochinke said the VFF was hopeful that the event would receive Category C disaster relief status.
That would provide farmers with funds for cleanup and recovery of pasture in particular.
BlazeAid president Kevin Butler said there was a desperate need for materials such as posts and wire.
Mr Butler said there were 50 volunteers each day on around 15 farms and that number was expected to soar to 150-200.
He said the drive to raise $1 million for post and wire was well underway with $100,000 expected to be reached by the end of the week.
“It’s great fencing weather and the pleasing thing is the high percentage of local, community volunteers pitching in,” he said.
Mr Butler said it was apparent that this was a “fire not without consequences”.
“If you give a hand or donate money, it will be shared back to you in the future – it’s reciprocal,” he said.
To make a donation or volunteer, click blazeaid.com.au.