Bushfire emergency - Jason Strong, Managing Director, Meat & Livestock Australia

07 January 2020

It has been a devastating start to 2020 for many red meat and livestock producers.

We have witnessed catastrophic bushfires roar through millions of hectares of rural and regional Australia, much of it farm land. The number of people and animals affected, plus the amount of infrastructure and vegetation destroyed is unprecedented.

The thoughts of everyone at MLA - some of who have been directly impacted - are with those who have lost loved ones, property, land and livestock.

While we are still in the tight grip of this crisis, it is becoming increasingly clear how challenging the recovery process will be - as those who have lost everything start to look at what the future may hold.

MLA is here to support producers in any way we can. Currently the focus is rightly on helping those producers who are needing immediate assistance, with MLA in close contact with the Department of Agriculture, State government, Peak Industry Councils, State Farming Organisations and livestock producers on the ground.

Impact to livestock

The extent of the full impact to livestock is unknown and will take time to understand.

What we do know is that there are close to 80,000 property identification codes in the main affected regions.

Our latest information is that 9% of the national cattle herd live in regions that have been significantly impacted and a further 11% in regions partially impacted.

For sheep, 13% of the national flock live in regions that have been significantly impacted and a further 17% in regions partially impacted.

Over the coming days, MLA will be working with the various state bodies to gain a more accurate picture of livestock numbers affected.

If possible, reporting of stock losses to the relevant state department is encouraged, to help authorities assess the extent of the damage and determine what assistance will be required for recovery.

MLA’s wholly owned subsidiary, Integrity Systems Company (ISC), is working behind the scenes to remove any non-essential regulatory requirements for affected producers related to the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program.

For producers in the affected areas that have been contacted recently to complete their LPA accreditation renewal process, this has now been deferred until further notice. Any upcoming LPA audits scheduled for the affected region will also be held off until a future date.  

Please get in touch with the ISC Helpdesk via 1800 683 111 or support@integritysystems.com.au if you have any questions.

You will also see below that we have prepared a detailed list of useful information and key contacts. At the very top of this list is a link to the National Farmers Federation Farm Hub page that contains important information on mental health resources.

Please utilise this information and keep a close eye on family and friends. This is an extremely challenging time for many producers and we must do everything we can to help each other through it. Our thoughts and best wishes are with everyone impacted.

Useful information

Mental health resources

A full list of available mental health services can be accessed directly on the Farm Hub website

Lifeline can be contacted on 13 11 14.

Emergency assistance

New South Wales disaster welfare assistance line: 1800 018 444 for emergency shelter, food, water or other essentials.

Victoria emergency – Relief and Recovery Centres and Financial Assistance information.

The Australian Government has extended assistance for people affected by the bushfires. Assistance is available if you can show you lost income or have been adversely affected as a direct result of the bushfires. For more information click here or call 180 22 66.

Agricultural resources 

NSW

Victoria

  • State recovery assistance services
  • Fodder requests and donations: Victorian Farmers Federation, 1300 882 833
  • Stock loss and assessment: Agriculture Victoria, 1800 226 226
  • Mental health support: Latrobe Regional Hospital East Gippsland Community Mental Health Service
    • Sale, 03 5143 1212 (AH: 1300 363 322)
    • Bairnsdale, 03 5150 3444 (AH: 1300 363 322)
    • Orbost, 03 5154 1807 (AH: 1300 363 322)

South Australia

Queensland

Western Australia      

Bushfire assistance contacts and resources are being updated regularly on the Farm Hub website

Tasmania

Integrity Systems Company

The ISC provides the following information and advice for fire-affected properties:

  • All livestock movements, especially after a natural disaster, pose a biosecurity threat. If possible, record all stock movements between PIC’s in the NLIS database and if circumstances allow, aim to move livestock to a property that is LPA accredited.
  • During times of natural disaster, you may receive or need to procure fodder from unfamiliar suppliers. There can be risks associated with unfamiliar fodder – such as chemical contamination, weed seed, restricted animal material, and poor quality or unsuitable feed for your class of livestock. Where possible, request a Commodity Vendor Declaration (CVD) for any purchased fodder and keep a record of all feed that has been bought in and the animals it was fed to.
  • Treatment for sick, injured or diseased livestock must be provided at the first possible opportunity, which is often extremely difficult following a fire.
  • When humane destruction is necessary, appropriate methods must be used by people who have the experience, knowledge, skills and tools – these are outlined in the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. Please check with your local and state authorities for advice on appropriate carcass disposal methods and any specific health risks in your area.

More comprehensive information on these points can be found in the National Disaster Response – Bushfires fact sheet.

For producers needing support with any of these actions, please get in touch with the ISC Helpdesk via 1800 683 111 or lpa@integritysystems.com.au

Information on how to help and giving donations is available on the NFF’s Farm Hub website.

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