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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 14 May, 2020
In this edition:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
COVIDSafe app download link

Farmers and producers are vital to all Victorian communities and play an important role during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The agricultural supply chain is essential to maintaining the flow of food to our supermarkets and kitchen tables.

As Victoria takes the first step to ease restrictions, the Victorian Government continues to recognise the critial importance of the agriculture and food sctor and will ensure our farms and agribusinesses keep operating - the keep the supermarket shelves stocked and food on Victorians' tables.

The situation continues to change and we urge you to regularly check the Department of Health and Human Services website for the latest update:

More information including common questions and answers, advice for animal owners, commuting and accommodating seasonal contract workers during coronavirus and farm business FAQs is available on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Contacting us
entrance to Agriculture Victoria Irymple office near Mildura

We’re continuing to serve the community but you may need to contact us in different ways.

If you can do something online then this is the best way. You can also call us 136 186 for a range of information including how best to contact us.

Agriculture Victoria office receptions across the state are now closed in order to reduce face-to-face contact between staff and members of the community. The decision is in response to the latest advice to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please consider whether the activity you are contacting us about is necessary at this time. Visit the Department of Health and Humans Services website for the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) advice.

Latest news
Almond pollination preparation
bee biosecurity at almond pollination

By the Agriculture Victoria Apiary Team

The 2020 almond pollination season is not far away.

For those beekeepers planning on taking hives this year, it is vital that you adequately prepare your hives so that they are healthy and strong for their work in the orchards.

Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (‘the Code’) 

Almond pollination season provides a great financial opportunity for beekeepers, but large numbers of hives moving into one area can create an increased biosecurity risk.

The Code has been designed to provide a clear framework for all beekeepers to engage in biosecurity best-practice to help mitigate the risk. 

If everyone complies with the Code, the risk of disease spread is reduced and the whole beekeeping industry benefits. 

It is important to note that most of the Code is now law in Victoria.

For more information, go to:

Almond pollination preparation checklist

1. Check to make sure that your registration as a beekeeper is current and that your registered brand is clearly marked on all your hives.  Check your registration details at:

2. Ensure that all your hives are structurally sound, have intact external surfaces, and only have openings that are designed specifically for bee access.  

3. Inspect your brood regularly to check for pests and diseases. Remove any diseased or substandard hives from your load before taking them to almond pollination.

4. Test your hives for exotic parasites (such as varroa mite) via drone uncapping and either the sugar shake or alcohol wash methods.

5. Communicate with your broker/grower with information about your apiaries, including your expectations of your available hive numbers and their quality.

6. Maintain records of your inspections, tests, observations and actions (such as movement) as they relate to your hives.

7. Complete your annual honey culture test. This is mandatory for beekeepers who own 50 or more hives. To order a test kit, contact Gribbles Veterinary Pathology on 1300 307 190.

8. To demonstrate to your broker or grower that you are compliant with the Code, provide them with a completed and signed copy of the ‘Certification of Compliance’ document. It can be found at the back of the Code:

What is Agriculture Victoria doing?

Agriculture Victoria undertakes disease surveillance and compliance monitoring activities aimed at reducing the biosecurity risk associated with almond pollination. 

Prior to hives arriving at almond orchards, we carry out a desktop audit of beekeepers attending almond pollination to gauge compliance levels and identify those who may pose a higher risk to others. 

During pollination, we conduct physical hive inspections aimed at detecting and containing any disease present.

Pre-season desktop audits have started.  We are also increasing our communications to help ensure that all beekeepers are aware of their responsibilities and have all the information they need to comply with the Code.  

We recognise that an adequate supply of strong and disease-free hives it is vital to the success of both beekeeping and almond producing businesses.

Agriculture Victoria is working with the industry to mitigate the biosecurity risk posed by high densities of hives at almond pollination.

For more information about attending almond pollination, the Code, or beekeeping in general, email your questions to:

Small dams not cutting it for stock water
farm dam

Many Victorian farmers rely on small farm dams to provide water for stock and domestic use but according to Agriculture Victoria farm water supply specialist Clem Sturmfels, these dams are increasingly unable to meet stock and domestic water demands.

“Over recent years dams have become less reliable due to a hotter and drier climate, more severe droughts and increasing areas of the state being sown to crops or improved pastures,” Mr Sturmfels said.

“A small reduction in rainfall or change in land use can significantly reduce the amount of runoff available for farm dams.”

Potential solutions to this issue, and many other farm water-related problems, will be discussed during a webinar hosted by Agriculture Victoria at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 20 May.

During the one-hour ‘Planning and designing a 5-star water supply system’ presentation, Mr Sturmfels will discuss water quality and quantity, climate impacts, water planning and design.

“Farmers need to consider all available options before spending money sinking a bore, building a larger dam or installing a reticulated water supply system,” he said.

“They should start with a thorough stocktake of their existing system and calculate the water needs of their grazing enterprise, while also taking into account the strategies they will implement during the next dry season or drought.”

Mr Sturmfels, whose background is in soil conservation, whole farm planning and on-farm water reticulation systems, said small dams often go dry over summer due to their limited storage capacity and very high evaporation losses.

“Large dams, on the other hand, are becoming less popular due to the lack of suitable sites, planning permit requirements and the impact these dams have on downstream flows.”

The webinar will also cover planning, designing, mapping and the implementation of water supply systems.

This event is delivered by Agriculture Victoria and funded by the Victorian Government 2019-20 drought support package.

To join this webinar / phone seminar, please register online at

For enquiries contact Tess McDougall on or 0409 841 492.

Digital gains for grains and ag students at Longerenong

Longerenong College near Horsham is ploughing ahead with providing agricultural students access to the latest in agriculture technology, backed by the Victorian Government.

New machinery and other equipment including a new airseeder, self-propelled boomspray, variable rate fertiliser spreader and remote sensing equipment have arrived in time for planting this year’s cereal, pulse and oilseed crops.

The investment is part of the AgTIDE Demonstration of Agricultural Technology Applications (DATA) Farm Project, establishing a 1000-hectare demonstration farm at the college supported by more than $2.5 million from the Victorian Government’s Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund.

The AgTIDE DATA Farm Project gives students and industry the opportunity to get hands-on experience with what the latest innovations in digital agriculture can do for a commercial grain farm.

The DATA farm will use a network of sensors and software platforms to help collect information, allowing students and farmers to see first-hand how this technology can be used to make evidence-based decisions for a season ahead.

One example is a top-soil mapper, which measures soil fertility across the paddock and shares this information so extra nutrition can be allocated only to the zones of the paddock that need it, allowing more efficient fertiliser use.

The new machinery and equipment will be complemented by an Innovation Centre where visitors to the college will be able to see real-time data from the farm and learn how agtech is driving improved farm performance.

Support for the DATA Farm is just one way the Victorian Government is helping farmers harness the benefits of digital technology to improve farm productivity and profitability.

Victoria’s On-Farm Internet of Things Trial is also supporting farmers to adopt digital technologies across horticulture, sheep, grains and dairy industries.

The Government is also helping provide farmers with the skills they need to make the most out of new on-farm technology through the Smarter, Safer Farms initiative.

Trace mineral deficiency in lambs this year

Recent rain has prompted Agriculture Victoria to issue a reminder to sheep producers about the potential for trace mineral deficiency diseases to effect their lambs this year.

Agriculture Victoria Senior Veterinary Officer Dr Robert Suter, said the early season rain that has been welcomed by producers across the state should result in good pasture growth throughout the winter.

However, the flush of new pasture increases the likelihood of trace mineral deficiency diseases in lambs born in winter and early spring.

Dr Suter said trace mineral deficiencies can result from ewes grazing lush green feed during the last half of their pregnancy.

“These ewes are likely to have lambs with low or deficient levels of trace minerals selenium, copper, iodine and cobalt,” he said.

“Sheep ingest several essential trace minerals from soil intake. This usually occurs when ewes graze short pastures after a dry summer and before the autumn break.

“When there is a lot of early season pasture growth, the intake of trace minerals via the soil is less likely to occur.”

Growing animals, such as lambs, also have a higher demand for trace minerals than adult sheep and are likely to suffer a dietary deficiency sooner.

Dr Suter said trace minerals such as copper, cobalt, selenium and iodine are only required in small amounts but are still essential for optimal production, and for life.

The signs of deficiency vary according to the mineral involved:

  • Copper deficiency presents most dramatically as enzootic ataxia (or ‘swayback’), a condition causing paralysis of the hind limbs of newborn or very young lambs. Less apparent signs include steely wool, anaemia and reproductive loss in older sheep.
  • Cobalt deficiency is an ill-thrift disease of reduced appetite and growth, decreased wool production, anaemia and poor reproductive performance. Affected animals often have ‘white liver’ disease. Diagnosis is based on vitamin B12 levels (vitamin B12 contains cobalt), and treatment is with vitamin B12.
  • Selenium deficiency causes ‘white muscle’ disease with white lesions in the red skeletal and cardiac muscle tissue, leading to lameness or sudden death. Ill-thrift, reduced wool growth, and ewe infertility are also reported signs of deficiency.
  • Iodine deficiency results in an enlarged thyroid gland, known as ‘goitre’ in lambs. There are effects on the developing foetus including reduced foetal size, brain retardation and increased lamb mortality.

Dr Suter said sheep producers in known deficient areas should review their trace mineral supplement strategies to ensure ewes have adequate levels to produce healthy lambs.

“Most of Victoria is iodine deficient; and an appropriate time to supplement ewes is midpregnancy,” Dr Suter said.

“A good time to do this is at pregnancy scanning.

“Special care must be taken with supplementing ewes with copper, as sheep can be easily killed with relatively small amounts of copper.”

For more information or advice speak to your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria animal health and welfare staff.

Farm safety risks for children

With children staying home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they're more likely to be living, playing and sometimes working on their family farms at the moment.

During a time when families are staying home it is more important than ever to ensure children are always in safe areas and there are no serious injuries.

Farm safety risks for children

A farm can be a place where families work, live and play.

But farms are also workplaces which present serious death and injury risks to children when they play or help on the farm.

Children perceive the world differently to adults and they may not always be able to predict or respond to an unsafe situation.

There are a range of health and safety risks for children on Victorian farms, with statistics showing that the main risks of serious injury and fatality are:


Drowning is the leading cause of child farm deaths, with dams the most common place children drown.

Farm vehicles

There are many examples of children being seriously or fatally injured when operating different farm vehicles.

Children should only ever operate age appropriate equipment based on the vehicle manufacturer's advice.

It's important to recognise that children lack the body weight, strength and judgement to handle a full-sized vehicle, such as an adult quad bike.

Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to operate an adult quad bike.

Machinery and attachments

All farm machinery can have potentially fatal consequences if used by children. Younger children are most likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries when playing on or near tractors.

Older children are likely to be injured while driving, as passengers on machinery or when carrying out farm tasks.


Children can lack the judgement to deal with animals safely. A child might not have the size, speed and understanding of how to get out of the way safely.

Other hazards

Other hazards and causes of injury to children on farms include falls from height, silos, chemicals, contact with electricity, noise and firearms.

Why children are at risk

A child's age and development characteristics can increase their risk of injury.

When there are children on farms, it's important to remember that they:

  • have less strength, co-ordination and understanding of situations than adults
  • can get distracted easily
  • may want to explore, try new things or push boundaries
  • may be impulsive and take risks beyond their capabilities
  • may be overwhelmed and slow to respond in unexpected situations.

How to keep children safe

Create safe play areas

Younger children on farms need a safe area to play where there are no hazards. Walk around the farm and look at it from a child's point of view. This will help you develop ways to keep children safe by:

  • creating a safe play area, especially for younger children such as a securely fenced house yard to define boundaries between safe and unsafe areas
  • ensuring children staying in a safe play area until someone can take them out under adult supervision
  • creating 'out of bound' areas in and around silos, grain loading areas, farm machinery, power tools and animal pens.

Know your legal duties

You have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017.

Some examples of these duties include making sure:

  • your farm is a safe working environment without risks to the health and safety of your family, other workers, farm visitors and contractors
  • people can enter and leave the farm safely, and without risk to their health
  • you report notifiable incidents to WorkSafe and keep the worksite undisturbed
  • the worksite remains undisturbed after an incident happens until an inspector arrives at the site or until an inspector directs when the Authority is notified of the incident.

Reduce the risks

Adults can most effectively reduce safety risks to children on farms.

Some ways to reduce risks on farms include:

  • making sure children always wear seatbelts when in any moving vehicle
  • preventing children from riding on tractors, attachments and the back of utes
  • using safety guards on all machinery
  • making sure children always wear helmets when riding any bikes or horses
  • keeping doors shut or locked, and removing the keys, so children cannot access unsafe areas
  • using suitable storage systems for dangerous chemicals
  • making sure that any bikes children ride, including motorbikes, are appropriate for their age and height and are in line with manufacturers' specifications
  • teaching children the dangers of speeding and riding on uneven ground
  • making sure children know what to do in an emergency, including what to do, where to go and who to call
  • teaching children about water safety and, where possible, fencing off dams, ponds, septic tanks, sheep dips, pools and creeks
  • preventing children from lifting heavy items.

For more information visit -

Virtual support for our innovative grain growers

Grain growers looking to commercialise an invention or develop a new value-added product are not being left on their own during this period of physical distancing.

To support growers wanting to enter the world of product commercialisation, free-of-charge Growers As Innovators virtual workshops will be held later this month.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has partnered with Farmers2Founders (F2F) to deliver the workshops on May 26 and 28.

GRDC Manager Commercialisation – North, Chris Murphy, said the three-hour workshops would explore how growers can take their home-grown innovations to the next level.

“The workshops, to be delivered by F2F, aim to provide advice and guidance about how to progress ‘new’ ideas and link would-be entrepreneurs with established experts,” Mr Murphy said.

“Growers will have the opportunity to meet other like-minded producers working on new business and product ideas, receive feedback and support on commercialising their products or inventions, and get the chance to work with F2F’s entrepreneurs and innovation experts.

“These workshops will also assist those growers who have a problem on-farm and are looking to work on solutions with others.”

The workshops will be on Tuesday, 26 May, from 2.30 - 5.30 pm AEST, and Thursday, May 28, from 10 am - 1 pm AEST. Growers can access the workshops via laptop or tablet.

As part of its innovation investment agenda, the GRDC has partnered with F2F to deliver Growers as Innovators Workshops across the nation and to support growers who have creative solutions to improve or combat problems in the grains industry.

F2F was established by innovation specialists Sarah Nolet, of AgThentic, and Christine Pitt, of FoodFutureCo, to support producer-led innovation. Its farmer entrepreneurship programs help Australian primary producers lead the conversation on emerging technologies and new business models in agriculture.

To register for the workshops, go to

For more information, contact Alexander Leat at F2F via

Upskilling workers to boost Victoria's dairy workforce
upskilling workers to boost dairy workforce

Job seekers matched with Victorian dairy farmers looking for help will be brought up to speed with specific training as part of a new program run by Dairy Australia and backed by the Victorian Government.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes this week announced $715,000 for the Dairy Farm Induction Program, which will help job seekers rapidly upskill and provide employers with training to induct new workers into their farm business.

The program is part of the $50 million Agriculture Workforce Plan which seeks to support Victoria’s agricultural industries and provide job-ready workers to meet labour demands.

The new program highlights an important component of the workforce plan in making sure incoming workers have access to rapid and high quality training, to ensure agricultural roles can be taken up quickly.

As part of the Dairy Farm Induction Program, an online learning package will be offered to help job seekers understand the culture of the workplace, and important day-to-day tasks such as machinery operation and handling stock.

Consultants will also be available to support farmers by providing training support on their farms for a smooth worker induction.

The Victorian Government is working closely with the state’s agricultural sector to ensure its crucial supply chains can continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

This includes continuing to test Victorians with even mild symptoms through new rapid response outbreak squads proactively visiting high-risk facilities, businesses and industries, and through pop-up testing sites.

Agriculture Victoria is also meeting weekly with the Victorian Agriculture Industry Reference Group to share information from the Government, ensure they have most up-to-date health and business advice and directly respond to feedback and concerns.

Online cuppa and chat making a connection
online cuppa and chat making a connection

An online support network is encouraging rural women to put the kettle on or have a splash of wine whilst having a virtual chat to share ideas and experiences in staying connected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes this week launched the Virtual Country Cuppas to support rural women in combatting feelings of isolation and stress while physical distancing.

Coordinated by the Victorian Rural Women’s Network (VRWN), the event is based on the VRWN’s successful face-to-face Country Cuppas that attracted 600 rural women to 32 events across Victoria in October.

This year participants are invited to host a virtual morning or afternoon tea, after-work drinks or another form of an online catch-up with their favourite community members or group.

While staying at home and limiting physical interaction has been vital to slowing the spread of the virus, it can be difficult for people’s mental health and wellbeing – particularly for those already experiencing mental health conditions or who live in isolated areas.

The Country Cuppas are a relaxed and comforting environment for participants to reconnect and share their experiences whilst meeting other rural women.

Anyone wanting to host a Virtual Country Cuppa will receive a hosting pack from the VRWN, which includes a free Zoom training webinar and personal development resources.

Virtual Country Cuppas will be held from 23 May to 31 May and is just one of several virtual initiatives that are being developed by the VRWN to upskill and support rural women.

For additional information or to register, visit the Victorian Rural Women’s Network website at

The Very Fast Break

Welcome to The Very Fast Break seasonal climate outlook for Victoria for May.

It’s a very bright green snapshot this month with just about everyone experiencing a ‘cracker of a start’ to the season.

There are promising signs of more moisture, but of course as is always the case with forecasting there are still a few climate triggers to be ironed out.

Regional climate update webinar

Agriculture Victoria has just run a series of webinars featuring Agriculture Victoria Seasonal Risk Agronomist Dale Grey on:

  • The climate drivers which affect your region
  • How models have performed for some recent climate events
  • The current regional forecast.

You can watch a recording of the webinars here:

For more information about drought and dry seasonal conditions support call 136 186 or visit

A nasty surprise could be in store when opening silos
canola budding

Grain growers sowing this year’s winter crops may find some nasty surprises when opening their silos for the first time in a while.

If stored grain has not been monitored since harvest, it is possible that insects have infested storages, necessitating treatment.

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grain Storage Extension Project manager, Chris Warrick, said his team often receives calls from growers in autumn after they have discovered insects while cleaning seed or at sowing.

“Sometimes this can be due to the fact that their silos don’t have ladders, so they have been unable to monitor grain at the top of the silo where insects often begin multiplying,” Mr Warrick said.

“The warmer and sometimes more humid air in the headspace of a silo is more conducive to insects reproducing so they are often found there first.”

Mr Warrick said spray-on protectants applied at harvest time to grain set aside for planting seed is designed to prevent insects for six to nine months.

“Protectants are not registered for use on grain that is already infested with insects because they are designed to deter insects – not kill them. Each protectant chemistry can also only be applied to a parcel of grain once,” he said.

When stored grain insects are detected, fumigation of silos is the only control option.

“The only on-farm control options we have to kill insects are phosphine, which can be applied by growers, ProFume®, which can only be applied by a commercial fumigator, or establishing a controlled atmosphere with nitrogen or carbon dioxide,” Mr Warrick said.

“All of these measures require gas-tight storage (AS2628) for reliable control results that avoid the development of resistance in insects.”

To assist growers with treating stored grain, Mr Warrick has recorded two webinars on fumigating with phosphine and pressure testing silos.

The webinar recordings can be found on the GRDC YouTube channel at and They are part of a series of grain storage webinar recordings,

Meanwhile, Mr Warrick reminds growers and advisers of the top five practices for successful grain storage:

1. Aeration cooling: Correctly designed and managed, it provides cool grain temperatures and uniform grain moisture conditions. Aeration reduces storage problems with moulds and insect pests, plus maintains a range of grain quality attributes relating to germination, pulse seed colour, oil quality and flour quality.

2. Hygiene: A high standard of storage facility hygiene is crucial in keeping background pest numbers to a minimum and reducing the risk of grain infestation.

3. Monitoring: To prevent nasty surprises, undertake monthly checking of grain in storage for insect pests (sieving/trapping) as well as checking grain quality and temperature. Keep monthly storage records, including any grain treatments applied.

4. Fumigation: In Australia, only fumigant gases (e.g. phosphine) are registered to deal with insect pest infestations in stored grain. To achieve effective fumigations, the storage/silo must be sealable – gas-tight (AS2628) to hold the gas concentration for the required time.

5. Grain protectants: Used on specific parcels of grain like planting seed held on farm, or bulk grain where potential grain buyers have agreed to its use, grain protectant sprays provide another line of defence against storage pests. They are designed to deter insects, not kill them.

Further practical information and advice on best practice grain storage is available via the GRDC’s comprehensive stored grain information hub at

Mr Warrick also encourages growers and their advisers to contact their regional grain storage expert with any concerns or questions by calling the national hotline 1800 WEEVIL (1800 933 845).

Young farmer business network
Young Farmer business network

Young Farmers of Victoria – this is your network to talk about farm business management with other like-minded young farmers through social media, articles, online and face to face forums.

Click here to join and learn more about the Young Farmer Business Network Facebook group.

PhD research fellowships on offer
apply now more than 30 phd research fellowships on offer

In partnership with the University of Melbourne, Agriculture Victoria is offering 32 PhD research fellowships in the grains, dairy and horticulture industries.

The fellowships will be based across Victoria at the department’s world-renowned research centres. Successful candidates will be rewarded with a $33,000 per annum scholarship, access to state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities for professional development and overseas travel.

To find out more visit the Agriculture Victoria website.

Managing dry conditions
access up to $5000 for on-farm drought infrastrcuture to improve mobile phone connectivity, weed control or soil moisture probes.
On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants program expanded

Jaclyn Symes, Minister for Agriculture has announced changes to the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants program.

The maximum value of the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants has increased from $5000 to $10,000 to boost farmers’ access to professional services while still enabling farmers to invest in drought preparedness infrastructure.

Eligible farm businesses can now apply for:

  • up to $5000 for business decision making activities (with no-contribution required)
  • up to $5000 for infrastructure investments (with at least 50 per cent co-contribution required).
  • There are three new eligible infrastructure investments under the resilience grants:
  • technologies to improve mobile phone connectivity
  • weed control (e.g., purchase of registered herbicide)
  • soil moisture probes (as an explicit investment under soil moisture monitoring activities)

For more information and to access the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants program, call Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or visit

Farmers are encouraged to apply early to ensure they do not miss out on funding.

Dry seasons hotline

Millewa and Carwarp district farmers can contact Agriculture Victoria on 1800 318 115 for dry seasonal conditions information and advice.

You may have questions about:

  • feed budgeting
  • stock containment areas
  • feed testing
  • livestock requirements
  • biosecurity
  • soil management

Our staff can also discuss other available support including grants.

Services and advice during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Drought and dry seasons affected farmers in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) are encouraged to sign-up for a free program to build their farm business skills.

Meridian Agriculture Farm Business Consultant Paul Blackshaw said a deep understanding of your farm business is important, especially when recovering from significant impacts, such as drought.

“This free program will commence with a two-hour webinar which will focus on the basics of farm business management and simple ways of identifying the current farm business position (analysis of recent financial performance, balance sheet and cash flow).

“We will also look at a SWOT analysis, the importance of evidence-based decision making, developing a fair and realistic cash flow budget, including relevant scenarios and strategic, tactical and operational planning.”

Mr Blackshaw said farmers who take part in the initial webinar will also be offered the opportunity to participate in individual remotely delivered sessions.

“During these one-on-one (remotely delivered) sessions we will explore basic historic and current financial performance of the farm business with the participant, as well as discussing their current strategic, tactical and operational plan, and assisting them to develop a cash flow budget for their business or review a current cash flow budget.”

Mr Blackshaw said there is no cost to participate in the program, but registrations are required. Ideally farmers will participate in the webinar focused in their region, however this isn’t essential.

Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID)

  • Webinar 1: Monday 18 May, 2 to 4 pm
  • Webinar 2: Tuesday 19 May, 7 to 9 pm

For more information and to register, please contact Yendon at Meridian Agriculture on (03) 5341 6100 or email: or Paul Blackshaw on 0427 546 643 or email:

For more information about drought and dry seasonal conditions support and advice go to

This event is delivered by Agriculture Victoria and funded by the Victorian Government 2019-20 drought support package.

Dry seasons support
Support for Victorian farmers continues

Agriculture Victoria remains available to assist Victorian farmers. We want to reassure farmers, particularly those impacted by bushfires and drought, that we will continue to provide support services to you and your farming business. However, the way we are doing this during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed.

What are we doing differently?

We are moving from our usual face-to-face client contact to other alternatives. This means we might call you on the phone, send you information via post or email, invite you to a video or teleconference, or even a webinar.

Our technical support remains available to help landholders affected by fires and drought in East and Central Gippsland, North East, Millewa and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District. 

Farmers can call us to access information tailored specifically to their needs on a range of topics including:

  • feed planning and pasture recovery
  • supplying feed and water to livestock
  • land and farm water management
  • general technical information
  • other assistance available and grants programs

Farmers affected by drought and bushfire

For support in bushfire-affected areas contact our Agriculture

Recovery Managers:

  • Gippsland – Keren Walker on (03) 5159 5118
  • North East – Kylie Macreadie on 0428 975 728

For support in drought-affected areas contact our Dry Seasonal Conditions Coordinators:

  • Millewa – Sue McConnell on 0418 572 087
  • Northern – Mick Bretherton on 0428 346 209
  • East and Central Gippsland – Nick Dudley on 0428 562 139.

Or email us at

Farmers can also continue to call our Customer Service Centre on 136 186 and access the website anytime at –

There are many other agencies providing assistance too – this includes the Rural Financial Counselling Service:

  • in Gippsland call 1300 834 775
  • in the North East call 1300 834 775.

Rural Finance is administering many grants programs for drought and bushfire impacted farmers. Give them a call on 1800 260 425 or access online anytime at   

Dairy support

The Dedicated Dairy Support Program is available to dairy farmers in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District who are considering structural or significant changes to their business.

Decisions could include leaving the industry, scaling back (or up), family succession or transitions to other enterprises.

For more information go to, call 1300 834 775 or email

Bushfire Recovery Victoria is also a great service to connect you with recovery services and information from the whole of the Victorian Government. Call them on 1800 560 760 or visit at

CWA Drought Relief Program

The CWA of Victoria’s Drought Relief Program has been provided a funding boost by the Victorian Government for the provision of household financial relief.

A grant payment of up to $3000 per individual applicant and/or household is available for farming families, farm workers and contractors that are drought-affected and reliant on farming as their primary source of income.

This program is being funded through the Victorian Government’s Farmers’ Drought Fund - Household Financial Relief program.

To access an application form or to find out more go to or email

Feeding livestock website
feeding livestock website

Did you know that the Agriculture Victoria’s Beef and Sheep Drought Feeding and Management online books have a new home?

They are housed and updated on the Feeding Livestock website and can be downloaded or viewed in whole or as individual chapters on any device.

Other key features of the website, include:

Upcoming webinars
Resilience webinar series

Five free 45-minute webinars on resilience thinking will be held during May and June 2020 for interested community members. In these turbulent times, resilience has become one of the most important capacities to build in communities, businesses, individuals and ecosystems alike.

  • Tuesday 19 May - 10 - 10.45 am - How social-ecological systems change
  • Tuesday 26 May - 10 - 10.45 am - Resilience and planning for regional-scale change

Register now. Places are limited. To register for one of the webinars please visit

For further details or queries contact Ashley Rogers at or 0488 196 216.

The webinars are free thanks to funding from the Victorian Government’s Our Catchments, Our Communities Program and the Goulburn Broken CMA.

climate webinars
Seasonal soil moisture probe network update

Climate Webinar
Thursday 21 May
12 pm AEST, 1 hour

Register at:

Title: Seasonal soil moisture probe network update

Summary: In this webinar, Dale Boyd will provide a seasonal update of the cropping soil moisture conditions as measured by the Agriculture Victoria moisture probe network.  This will include a review of the distribution of summer rain and impacts of the Autumn break and how this season is tracking compared to last year and other years in the monitoring period of the probes.

About the presenter: Dale Boyd is a seasonal risk agronomist in the grains team with Agriculture Victoria based out of Echuca. He has worked with the department for 20 years and during that time has worked on a range of projects linked to monitoring soil moisture, irrigated cropping, and the current seasonal risk work. This work is a state-wide technology adoption project that uses deep soil moisture probe and weather station networks.

Dale helps Victorian dryland grain farmers and advisors interpret seasonal risk information to aid decision making using soil moisture probes recording data down to one metre.

The data obtained from the moisture probes is interpreted and presented in monthly enewsletter updates which aims to be educational on the use of technology and informative on the seasonal conditions.

We run regular webinars on topics relevant to primary producers and others working in agriculture.

The range of topics that are discussed include seasonal risk and climate change projections and impacts, adaptation opportunities and innovative farming practices and soil moisture monitoring.

Our webinars are free for anybody to view. More information can be found on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Financial literacy for farm business decision-making
financial literacy for farm business decision-making

Drought and dry seasons affected farmers in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) and East are encouraged to sign-up for a free program to build their farm business skills.

  • Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) - Webinar 1 - Monday 18 May - 2 to 4 pm
  • Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) - Webinar 2 - Tuesday 19 May - 7 to 9 pm

For more information and to register, please contact Yendon at Meridian Agriculture on (03) 5341 6100 or email: or Paul Blackshaw on 0427 546 643 or email:

For more information about drought and dry seasonal conditions support and advice go to

This event is delivered by Agriculture Victoria and funded by the Victorian Government 2019-20 drought support package.

NLIS database management webinars
know your NLIS requirements

Monday 18 and 25 May
8 - 9 pm

Book online at Eventbrite – select 'NLIS Database Webinar'

Agriculture Victoria is delivering a two-part webinar for livestock producers using the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database.

Participants will learn about the national traceability system, how to complete a Property-to-Property (P2P) transfer and use the NLIS database features.

Topics include:

  • Overview of the traceability system
  • Setting up, navigating and using the NLIS database
  • Completing Property-to-Property (P2P) transfers on the database

Participants are required to set up their NLIS account prior to attending the webinar.

Further information on how to do this and how to join the webinar will be provided at registration.

For more information or if you have trouble registering, please call (03) 5761 1647.

Planning and designing a five-star water supply - 20 May

Join us for in interactive webinar on autumn grazing management.
Presented by Clem Sturmfels, Agriculture Victoria Land Management Extension officer, Ararat.

Topics covered:

  • Planning for the future
  • Stock water requirements
  • Climate impacts
  • Basic design

Date: Wednesday 20 May

Time: 7.30 to 8.30 pm

Register online here

For enquiries contact Tess McDougall via email at or 0409 841 492.

Digital Opportunities Roadshow
digital opportunities roadshow

The Victorian Government in partnership with Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is delivering ONLINE workshops in regional Victoria to provide small businesses with practical actions and tips on how to make the most of the digital economy and reduce cybersecurity risks.

By registering for these FREE ONLINE workshops, small businesses will develop digital skills across a range of areas.

The following topics will be covered:

  • developing an online presence,
  • understanding and using digital tools and
  • managing your cybersecurity and safety plan

The workshop will assist small business in developing a fit-for purpose online presence and identifying online goals.

It will give practical advice on how businesses can operate in a digital economy, understand and use the digital tools and services that are available.

Guidance will be provided on how to manage cybersecurity and safety to help small businesses invest time in developing a practical cybersecurity plan.

Workshops taking place in the Loddon Mallee region include:

  • Swan Hill – 26 May
  • Cohuna - 1 June

For more information and a complete listing of events in all regions use the below link:

Sustaining our food supply
sustaining our food supply

2 June, 1:30 (AEST)

Keen to hear the latest research into actions we can take to build the resilience of Melbourne’s fresh food supply?

Why we should protect farmland on the city fringe and ensure secure water sources?

And some practical ways in which consumers and households can help sustain our local food supply?

Join the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Melbourne for an insightful online conversation with Dr Rachel Carey, lead of the Foodprint Melbourne research project.

Understand more about:

  • The characteristics that make up Melbourne’s ‘foodbowl’ and a resilient food system
  • What the shocks and stressors to Melbourne’s food supply are
  • Suggestions for policy makers to make our locally produced food system more sustainable
  • Tips for each of us as consumers to help support local food producers and make our food system more resilient

The conversation will be facilitated by Dr Jennifer Henry, alum of the School of Agriculture and Food (BAgr(Hons) 1990, PhD 2001).

To join us for this informative online event, please RSVP here.

Further information is available in a recent article published by Dr Carey entitled Our food supply has problems with equity, not quantity, and discusses how shocks to our food supply, like COVID-19, provide an opportunity to transform our food systems in a way that is healthier, more sustainable and equitable.

Goat producers guide to the NLIS database

Tuesday 2 and 9 June
12.30  – 1.30 pm

Book online at Eventbrite – select 'NLIS Database Webinar for Goat Producers'

Agriculture Victoria is delivering a two-part webinar for goat producers using the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database.

Participants will learn about the Victorian goat traceability system, how to complete a Property-to-Property (P2P) transfer and use the NLIS database features.

Topics include:

  • Traceability system overview
  • Purchasing electronic NLIS tags for goats
  • Setting up, navigating and using the NLIS database
  • Completing Property-to-Property (P2P) transfers on the NLIS database

Participants are required to set up their NLIS account prior to attending the webinar. Further information on how to do this and how to join the webinar will be provided at registration.

For more information, or if you have trouble registering, please call (03) 5761 1647.

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