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Gippsland Ag News
Thursday, 11 June 2020
In this edition:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

The Victorian Government is gradually easing restrictions currently in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

In all activities, farmers are asked to be considered. Be cautious. Use your common sense. And if you don’t have to do it – don’t.

Stay safe by maintaining good hygiene, keeping your distance from others and if you feel unwell stay home.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should get tested.

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

More information is also available on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Latest news
Standing with farmers against biosecurity threats

The Victorian Government will continue to back farmers and protect our biosecurity with strict enforcement of on-the-spot fines for those caught trespassing onto farms in the name of animal activism.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes tabled the government’s response to the Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture in parliament recently, after considering the recommendations published in February.

The Inquiry’s findings identified ways to further strengthen approaches to animal welfare and biosecurity, to build and maintain public confidence in agriculture.

The government’s response supports 13 of the 15 recommendations in full, one in principle and did not support one recommendation.

Recommendations supported include incorporating on-the-spot fines for biosecurity breaches caused by trespassers in legislation. The government will introduce this legislation with a view to making fines for this behaviour among the heaviest in Australia.

Other supported recommendations include working with farmers in developing biosecurity management plans and actions on animal welfare complaints for better public education, and the consideration of implementing closed-circuit cameras in abattoirs.

The government is already acting to strengthen animal welfare in Victoria through several initiatives, including the modernisation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (POCTA) regulations.

The Inquiry was conducted by the Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee in 2019 following several illegal activities in the name of animal activism.

It was informed by 506 submissions, seven days of hearings held across country Victoria and Melbourne, and three site visits by committee members.

The government is committed to maintaining Victoria’s high level of biosecurity. The 2019/20 Victorian Budget included a $142.5 million boost to our biosecurity system..

The Victorian Government thanks the committee chair Nazih Elasmar MP, committee members and acknowledges the contributions of the many Victorians who made a submission to the inquiry or appeared as a witness.

The government’s full response is available on the Committee’s page of the Parliament of Victoria’s website.

Discover a new soil moisture monitoring platform

Farmers, advisors and researchers are invited to explore the new Agriculture Victoria Soil Moisture Monitoring website in a 'walk-through webinar'.

The new Soil Moisture Monitoring website – launched by Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes recently – showcases Agriculture Victoria's highly regarded soil moisture probe network.

The new website replaces the previous soil moisture data dashboard with a detailed page dedicated to each of the 36 soil moisture monitoring sites across the state.

New tools featured on the website can translate soil moisture data into meaningful, real time, local information.

"My favourite tool is the 'speedo' graph showing change in overall soil moisture at a particular site," Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist, and project co-ordinator, Dale Boyd said.

"It's a simple way to represent how the soil moisture profile has changed over the last year, in other words how full the ‘tank’ is.”

The overall soil moisture 'speedo' tool is just one of the innovative features of the new website that will be explored during the walk-through webinar.

"Previously, we could only show soil moisture data, without any real interpretation.

“The new website takes this data and adds value to it, with tools that are easy to use such as a temperature gauge, current soil moisture profile and a one to three-month rainfall outlook for the state," Mr Boyd said.

The webinar – scheduled for Wednesday 17 June at 12 pm (AEST) – will be recorded and made available on the Agriculture Victoria website.

For more information about Agriculture Victoria’s soil probe network and the new Soil Moisture Monitoring website, email or contact Dale Boyd on

To register for the webinar, click here: the Soil Moisture Monitoring website can be found at:

For more information about joining webinars email or contact Alice Ritchie

The webinar is delivered by Agriculture Victoria and funded by the Victorian Government’s 2019–20 Drought Support Package.

The Very Fast Break – June

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

Find out about where the autumn rains fell, the current outlook for winter and what’s causing crazy things to happen in the Indian Ocean.

Watch The Very Fast Break to find out what it all means.

Weeds and rabbits project survey

The Weeds and Rabbits Project is seeking support from private and public land managers to help combat pests and weeds which cost Victoria more than $1 billion a year.

Landholders are being invited to take part in a statewide survey about how they manage weeds and rabbits on their property.

The results will provide a better understanding of the barriers people face with implementing weed and rabbit management practices.

Agriculture Victoria is the lead agency in the delivery of programs to combat established invasive species, which is underpinned by the Commonwealth Government-funded Weeds and Rabbits Project.

Complete the survey at

The survey closes Sunday 24 June.

Excellence in Agribusiness Awards – applications closing soon

Entries are closing soon for Food & Fibre Gippsland’s Excellence in Agribusiness Awards.

Now is the time to be recognised, celebrated and rewarded for your contribution to the Gippsland region. Agribusinesses of all sizes are encouraged to enter.

Please visit for category details and to download an entry form.

Entries close 25 June 2020.

Agribusinesses of all sizes are encouraged to enter.

Please visit for category details and to download an entry form.

Livestock Biosecurity Funds Grant Program

The Livestock Biosecurity Funds Grant Program is now open for applications.

Apply now for support for projects or programs that prevent, monitor and control diseases in Victorian cattle, sheep, goat, swine or honeybee industries. More information at

PhD fellowships in the dairy industry – apply now

In partnership with The University of Melbourne, Agriculture Victoria is offering 17 PhD research fellowships in the dairy industry.

Based at our world-renowned research centres at Ellinbank and Hamilton, successful applicants 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

Young farmer scholarships – applications closing 14 June

The Upskill and Invest – Young Farmers Scholarship Program provides young farmers and/or young farm workers up to $5,000 towards training or study (Upskill), and up to $5,000 extra funding to invest on-farm or in professional development (Invest), to put new skills into practice.

The scholarship program is designed to be flexible and to fit with the different demands and ambitions of young farmers. It provides young farmers and those who work directly on farm with an opportunity to invest in themselves and their career.

Applications for this year’s round of scholarships close on Sunday, 14 June.

To find out more about the program and to apply for a scholarship, visit

Primary producers bushfire support programs
Wine Grape Testing Rebate Program for smoke affected vineyards

Victorian winemakers and wine grape growers affected by the recent summer bushfires now have access to expert support and technical advice to help them make decisions about their current vintage.

The program includes online technical workshops on recognising and addressing the effects of smoke exposure, evaluation of 2020 wines by expert sensory panels, support to produce test batches for evaluation and access to a benchmarking kit to help winemakers assess their own wines.

The program will also include winemaking trials to evaluate techniques for treating smoke-affected wines and research activities to better characterise the impacts of smoke on a range of locally important varieties.

The Wine Grape Testing Rebate Program, provides growers with up to $1200 for smoke-exposure testing. The rebate program remains open to eligible growers through Rural Finance.

For more information on support for the wine industry after the bushfires visit or call 136 186.

Back to business – one-to-one support for fire-affected producers

Producers in fire-affected regions can access up to three free one-on-one Back to Business sessions with a local farm management consultant to help put their business back on track.

All red-meat producers, including sheep, cattle and goat, who have been affected by the recent bushfires are eligible to apply.

The Back to Business program in Victoria is being coordinated by Agriculture Victoria. For more information or to register, contact:

Online registration is also available here.

For more info visit

Small Business Bushfire Support Grant

Grants of up to $10,000 are available to support small businesses (including primary producers) significantly affected by the 2019–20 bushfires to recover and rebuild resilient businesses.

Eligible activities include meeting standard business costs, seeking financial advice, adjusting the business to be viable in the changed local context following bushfire and improvements to make the business more resilient to future disasters.

The grants are available to eligible small businesses in the local government areas of East Gippsland, Towong and Alpine who have suffered a decline in revenue of 40 per cent or more in a relevant three-month period.

Businesses can apply for this grant in addition to other bushfire grants. For more information contact Rural Finance 1800 260 425 or

Victorian Bushfires Concessional Loans

Concessional loans of up to $500,000 are available to support small business, primary producers and non-profit organisations impacted by the Victorian bushfires that began on 21 November 2019.

The loans are for restoring and/or replacing damaged assets and/or to meet working capital expenses.

They are available for eligible wine grape growers in Ararat, Alpine, Ballarat, East Gippsland, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Greater Bendigo, Indigo, Mansfield, Moyne, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Southern Grampians, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga.

For further information contact Rural Finance 1800 260 425 or

Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants

Grants of up to $75,000 to assist primary producers directly affected by the 2019–2020 bushfire with recovery costs. Eligible activities include rebuilding or replacing damaged or destroyed on-farm infrastructure, including fencing and trellises.

Wine grape growers who are located in eligible fire affected local government areas and have had crops affected by smoke taint may be able to claim for costs associated with the salvage, harvest and disposal of the smoke taint affected crops. Where no fire has occurred on the property, evidence of smoke impact, such as smoke taint testing results are required.

Available in eligible fire affected local government areas across Victoria. In the areas of Ararat, Alpine, Ballarat, East Gippsland, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Greater Bendigo, Indigo, Mansfield, Moyne, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Southern Grampians, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga, and the alpine areas of Falls Creek, Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Mount Stirling.

For further information contact Rural Finance 1800 260 425 or

Drought and dry seasons support services and information
Domestic and stock bore license fee waiver

The Victorian Government is waiving the $235 application fee for new domestic and stock bore construction licences (BCL) for landholders in eligible areas of Victoria.

This initiative will help landholders secure their domestic and stock water supply needs in areas experiencing drought and dry conditions.

Apply online at the Victorian Water Register

CWA of Victoria’s 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

The program can provide up to $3000 to eligible farming families, farm workers and farm dependent contractors to reimburse them for household expenses like school costs, utilities, food and medical bills.

For more about the program and other available drought support visit or call 136 186.

For anyone seeking a copy of the application form or requiring assistance to complete the application, please contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or email the CWA on

Drought employment program

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority received funding for the Drought Employment Program from the Victorian Government last October.

The program provides off-farm employment training for farmers, farm workers and individuals affected by drought and dry seasonal conditions to expand or obtain transferable employment skills.

For further information:

Phone East Gippsland CMA on (03) 5152 0600


Visit Gippsland drought employment

On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants program expanded

The maximum value of the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants has increased from $5,000 to $10,000 to boost farmers’ access to professional services whilst 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).

Farmers in drought-affected areas of East Gippsland and Wellington shires also impacted by the bushfires can reapply for the grant where previously funded investments through the On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants, Pasture Recovery and Management Grants or the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants were destroyed or damaged.

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.

Upcoming webinars
African Swine Fever webinars – are you ASF ready?

A series of free webinars for pig producers to help them be informed and prepared for African Swine Fever.

To register, follow the link:

Webinar 1: African Swine Fever


Tuesday 16 June
2 – 3 pm

Register here



  • Dr David Williams from CSIRO – Current global ASF pandemic
  • Dr Lechelle van Breda from APL – Economic impact of ASF

Free for producers. For more information contact

Webinar 2: On-farm biosecurity


Tuesday 23 June
2 – 3 pm

Register here



  • Dr Chris Richards and Dr Bri Fredrich from APIAM Animal Health – Biosecurity best practice protocols

Free for producers. For more information contact

Webinar 3: ASF in Australia


Tuesday 30 June
2 – 3 pm

Register here



  • Dr Regina Fogarty from Agriculture Victoria – Outbreak, preparedness and response

Free for producers. For more information contact

Farm Business Resilience Webinar Series

Agriculture Victoria is delivering a series of four webinars to improve farm business resilience, hosted by ORM managing consultant Matt McCarthy. Farmers and farm business managers should register for the webinars to identify how to safeguard their core business operations when unexpected situations occur.

Register for each of the webinars below to attend or receive a link of the recorded event.

Webinar 2: Your Finances

Thursday 18 June
1.30 pm

Register here


Our expert guest will be Jane Foster, Agribusiness Consultant, ORM. Jane has more than 15 years’ experience in agri banking and industry before joining ORM.

In this webinar, Jane will provide tips on how to work with the ‘new norms’ around accessing and extending bank finance and discuss the use of other financial buffers.

Webinar 3: Your Resources

Thursday 2 July
1.30 pm

Register here


In this webinar, participants will be shown how to identify critical workflows, exposures and vulnerabilities, set priorities and access potential impacts using a risk matrix.

Webinar 4: Your Plan

Thursday 16 July
1.30 pm

Register here


In this webinar, an expert panel from across agriculture will discuss how farmers have successfully built business resilience over the last decade, where are the main gaps, and how can farms build resilience into the future.

MLA Webinar: The best age to wean prime lambs

Tuesday 16 June
8 – 9 pm

Learn more and register online


Dr Bruce Allworth of Charles Sturt University will be discussing when is the best time to wean crossbred lambs off crossbred ewes.

Tune in to hear:

  • When do ewes cease lactation?
  • Is 14 weeks still the best option for weaning if you lamb in July?
  • What are the factors to consider when determining your weaning date?

Contact: Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) on 1800 023 100 or

Ellinbank Seminar Series 2020


Wednesday 17 June
12.30 pm

Register here



  • Dr Cameron Gourley, Senior Research Scientist, Soil Sciences, Ellinbank – The road to improved nutrient use efficiency for a contemporary dairy industry

Nutrient management continues to be a high priority for both production and environmental performance on Australian dairy farms. As dairy production systems intensify, increased cow numbers result in greater reliance on imported feed and fertiliser, causing larger nutrient fluxes, greater GHG emissions, and lower nutrient use efficiency. Increased animal densities can also mean excessive nutrient loads from excreta and an increasing proportion of manure requiring collection, storage and land application.

In this seminar, nutrient flows at the farm- and within-farm scale will be presented, emphasising recent research outcomes quantifying nitrogen and carbon losses from dairy cow manure and demonstrating improved nutrient management can lead to improved productivity and environmental outcomes.



Wednesday 1 July

12.30 pm

Register here



  • Dr Maria Rose, Dairy Extension Officer, Biosecurity and Agriculture Services, Maffra –The Biosecurity Plan Builder: promoting uptake of biosecurity planning amongst Victorian dairy farmers

In her presentation, Dr. Rose will cover the rationale behind the Biosecurity Plan Builder tool and how it differs from other biosecurity templates for managing animal disease risks. She will also give an update on the roll out of the tool (to date and future plans) to encourage its uptake by farmers. Her presentation will also include stepping through the tool “on line” and highlighting its features including some tips and tricks to get the most out of using it.



Wednesday 15 July
12.30 pm

Register here



  • Dr Anna Thomson, Research Scientist, Animal Production Sciences, Ellinbank – Multispecies forages as alternatives to perennial ryegrass: Beyond white clover!

Grassland is a crucial resource for the ruminant livestock industries within the agricultural sector. In most temperate regions globally, this land is predominantly sown with ryegrass: a high yielding species that can provide good quality forage but is reliant upon the application of sufficient nitrogen fertiliser, and susceptible to drought. Nitrogen fertiliser is expensive and has a high carbon and nitrogen footprint. Therefore, multiple research projects in recent years have investigated the replacement of monoculture pastures with mixed-species leys. Their aim has been to achieve acceptable yields of good quality forage for livestock production whilst having a positive and long term impact on the environment.

In this seminar, Anna Thomson, who previously worked at the University of Reading (UK) before joining the Ellinbank team, will discuss her previous research into mixed-species pastures as part of a collaborative 5-year study: ‘The DiverseForage Project’ and also summarise the findings of other notable European studies on this subject matter.

Climate webinars
Navigating the new Agriculture Victoria soil moisture monitoring website

Wednesday 17 June
12 – 1 pm

Register online


In this webinar, Dale Boyd will provide an explanation and walk-through of the new Agriculture Victoria soil moisture monitoring website.

This will include navigating the website to find the soil moisture probe nearest to you and interpreting the data collected at that site.

Dale Boyd shares his expert knowledge in how soil moisture information can be used to make valuable and informed seasonal risk decisions.

Contact: Alice Ritchie on 0429 386 781 or

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