Supporting Bushfire-Affected Farmers

The Andrews Labor Government is providing assistance to farmers affected by bushfires in East Gippsland and north-east Victoria to make sure they have the support they need during and after the disaster.

The Agriculture Victoria Relief and Recovery Incident Management Team has been established and will be based at the DJPR Biosecurity Centre at Attwood – with command posts at Wodonga and Bairnsdale.

These teams are coordinating agriculture relief operations for all fires in the Upper Murray and Gippsland regions and will oversee relief in other fire-affected areas for the rest of the summer. Twenty-one private vets will also work in the Upper Murray based at relief centres to assist Agriculture Victoria with animal welfare cases.

After an emergency, it’s essential all livestock is assessed for injury and disease, which can spread more quickly in these situations.

Agriculture Victoria animal health and impact assessment teams have visited 290 properties in the past week, providing an initial assessment of 1150 confirmed livestock losses in the Upper Murray area and 150 in Gippsland across dairy, beef and sheep – with more than 3500 animals still reported as missing across both regions.

With teams still unable to access a number of isolated communities, these numbers are likely to grow. To arrange a visit from Agriculture Victoria, farmers should contact the VicEmergency hotline on 1800 226 226.

While National Livestock Identification System regulations remain in place for cattle, sheep and goats after a fire, animal welfare is the highest priority – and NLIS requirements can be addressed once stock are relocated.

The Labor Government is working with the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), with support from local hay runners and the Australian Defence Force, to provide urgent collection and distribution of fodder. Farmers in need are encouraged to contact the VFF on 1300 882 833.

Affected farmers can also access immediate financial support through both the Victorian Emergency Relief Assistance Payment by calling the VicEmergency hotline on 1800 226 226 and the Commonwealth Government’s Disaster Recovery Program Payment on 180 22 66.

For more information on support available to affected agricultural communities, contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/emergencies/recovery/gippsland-upper-murray-fires.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes

“These fires have been devastating for communities across Victoria and have caused extreme damage to Victorian farms, including significant livestock loss.”

“Agriculture Victoria has expert staff on the ground and I encourage anyone who needs assistance to get in touch and get the support they need for their farms, their livestock and themselves.”