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Thursday, 21 March 2024

In this edition:

What to do after a bushfire
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Visit our website for more information on fire recoveryClick here

Applications are open for new members to join Victoria’s Biosecurity Reference Group

Agriculture Victoria is renewing and expanding the membership of the Biosecurity Reference Group (BRG).

Members of the group will help guide the implementation of Victoria’s new Biosecurity Strategy, including where and how effort and resources will be invested.  

We are looking for diverse expertise from across Victoria’s biosecurity system, including Traditional Owners, the agricultural sector, supply chains, community and environment.

Submit your application to join the Biosecurity Reference Group today!

Applications close 5 pm Wednesday, 3 April.

Download the terms of reference and complete the application form at

Farmers urged to stay alert to risks of fatigue in danger period
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Sheep and cropping farmer Jack Armstrong knows that in agriculture it pays to be proactive with safety, particularly when it comes to managing the risks of fatigue during peak periods.

During what can be a higher-risk time for farming workplaces, Jack, who farms at Yalla-Y-Poora, south-east of Ararat, is encouraging farmers and workers to have important conversations around health and safety and managing fatigue risks.

WorkSafe data shows March and November are peak months for workplace fatalities in agriculture, corresponding with the busy sowing and harvest seasons.

Jack said he could see the dangerous role fatigue could play in contributing to workplace incidents on farms through his own experiences.

'There are some horror stories of people having massive incidents. A farmer near here was bailing one night after working massive hours and they crashed the tractor into a power pole. He ended up being okay but the machinery was toast. It's having stories like that in the back of your mind that you need to learn from,' Jack said.

'It's just a shame that it takes something bad to happen to create some good – you'd prefer to be proactive rather than reactive.'

Jack is adding his voice to WorkSafe’s emotive campaign, It's never you, until it is, which is making a return with advertising across regional television, radio, print and digital media to offer practical safety solutions for farmers and encourage conversations around safety.

Jack describes fatigue among farmers as 'extremely common', particularly at busy times.

'The work that we do can be different to other jobs – it can be very manually intensive and the hours can be quite exhaustive and that can really catch up to a person,' he said.

'I think a lot of farmers can have the misconception that if they work really hard and work long hours they'll get more done and be more efficient when you sort of just end up burning the candle at both ends.'

WorkSafe Inspector Dallas Braam urged farmers and farm workers to listen to their bodies and not shrug off the signs of fatigue.

'Fatigue affects your decision making and when your decision making is affected not only are you affecting yourself, potentially, but the people you're working with, who are usually family and friends,' he said.

'Taking a break to get hydrated, have some food, or call a friend could prevent an injury out there and you'll be going home to see your loved ones at the end of the day – that's the difference.'

Families and communities are reeling from the loss of two lives in workplace incidents on farms already this year, taking the number of work-related deaths in agriculture to 34 since January 2020.

Farmers and farm workers who suffer serious injuries also face a long road to get back on the job, with more than 25 per cent of those injured still unable to return to farming one year on from a serious incident.

WorkSafe Executive Director Narelle Beer said every conversation about farm safety helped remove the stigma around health and safety in agriculture.

'We're working for a future where safety is at the centre of farming operations and where deaths and injuries are seen to be preventable, not inevitable,' Dr Beer said.

'Every time a farmer or farm worker talks about farm safety helps to make a real difference in preventing families and communities from losing loved ones.'

More information on the It's never you, until it is campaign and farm safety can be found HERE

The Horticultural Netting Program closing soon
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Grants of up to $150,000 are available to eligible producers of commercial horticulture crops, excluding wine grapes, to purchase and install new netting over established production areas. 

The program now includes a self-installation allowance if you wish to self-install netting.

Applications close 8 April.

For more information about the program visit the Horticultural Netting Grants for Victorian Horticulturalists page on our website.

This program is delivered by the Victorian Government on behalf of the Australian Government.

Reminder – phaseout of 3G network
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Victorian farmers are reminded of the upcoming phase out of the 3G network.

Starting from 30 June the 3G network will be phased out in rural Victoria.

If you use devices that rely on a 3G SIM card for connectivity, it's important to understand how this may impact your farm operations.

Reach out to your technology providers to ensure your devices are compatible with the upcoming changes.

Stay ahead of the transition to ensure seamless connectivity on your farm.

Future of Victoria's distillery industry in safe hands

Aspiring Victorian distillers now have the opportunity to benefit from a new pilot training program focused on cutting edge distillation techniques and industry safety as part of the $20 million Distillery Door Program.

The $1.2 million pilot education pathway for distillers is being delivered by the National Distilling Institute in collaboration with the Spirits Victoria Association and the Australian Distillers Association.

The initial courses will be a Certificate IV in Artisan Fermented Products and micro-credential courses for safety in distilleries.

The first session was held at Starward Distillery in Port Melbourne recently and will be followed by sessions at regional distilleries in Geelong, Ballarat, Mornington and the High Country throughout April.

Over the next 18-months, the first round of students will complete up to 22 different subjects where they will gain expertise in areas ranging from how to blend spirits and filter fermented beverages, to how to perform basic safety tests and control food contamination and spoilage.

Further development will involve a Certificate III in Food Processing (Distilling) and funding of up to $2000 per distillery for staff to attend other micro-credential courses.

Victoria is the distillery capital of the nation with more than 180 distillers that employ over 9,000 people in rewarding jobs across regional and metropolitan Victoria.

This program is part of the $20 million Distillery Door Program which promotes Victoria’s world-class distilling industry through supporting skills development, boosting visitor economy, improving infrastructure and safety, and increasing export capability.

New Soil Health Guide a key part of a farmer’s toolkit
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Above: North Central CMA Sustainable Agriculture Facilitator Darren Bain holding the soil guide

A new resource will serve as a one-stop-shop for farmers and gardeners keen to understand and improve their soil health.

North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and Agriculture Victoria have teamed up to create the region’s new Soil Health Guide.

North Central CMA Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager Mandy Coulson said the guide included a physical and digital book, a step-by step website, and instructional videos on how to understand, test, and improve your soil.

'Soil is central to a lot of the challenges farmers face, so understanding the makeup of soil and how to improve it can go a long way to helping them make the right decisions,' she said.

'No matter whether you’re in a paddock, at your desk, on the lounge, or in the garden, you’ll have access to the information you need to test and improve your soil.

'These resources are perfect for our catchment, but the knowledge can be easily used anywhere around Victoria or Australia.'

Agriculture Victoria Grains Regional Manager Rebecca Mitchell launched the guide at Pyramid Hill, and said the resources offered practical information and solutions.

'The Soil Health Guide is a toolkit and identifies a range of simple tests anyone can do to determine management actions to improve soil health,' she said.

'The Soil Health Guide looks at ground cover, biological activity, soil colour, pH, texture, topsoil, structure, compaction, and stability.

'The guide also discusses the valuable role played by existing soil carbon stores and how they offer great benefit to both agricultural productivity and the wider environment.'

To find out more, and to access the free resources, click here

This project is delivered by the North Central CMA and Agriculture Victoria, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

AgTech Innovators Series 2 Episode 3
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When Tenacious Ventures make an investment, they consider three crucial factors: the team, the technology, and the traction.

Co-founder Sarah Nolet says assessing these elements can be challenging, however, if they make the right choices, it can have a significant impact on the success of an AgTech startup.

Listen online via the AgVic website

Consultation on animal welfare laws closing soon
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The Victorian Government has extended the consultation period on the draft bill for the new animal care and protection laws.

Victorians have until Monday 25 March to have their say on the bill – which will replace the current Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA Act).

Executive Director of Animal Welfare Victoria, Dr Trevor Pisciotta, said the extension gives interested people and organisations more time to make a submission, following recent extreme weather events.

‘We’ve been committed to engaging with key stakeholders and the Victorian community throughout these reforms – this is the third and final round of consultation.’

‘Regional communities have already strongly influenced the form of the Draft Bill, which will help to maintain the trust of our trading partners, consumers and the community in Victoria’s animal-based activities and industries’, Dr Pisciotta said.

In addition to the three consultation rounds, Agriculture Victoria has consulted with more than 50 organisations representing people involved with animals or with an interest in animals and the law.

The feedback has been carefully considered and contributed to the reform process to date.

Dr Pisciotta said the POCTA Act is nearly 40 years old and does not always reflect current community expectations, developments in animal science or changing industry practices.

‘Demonstrating a high standard of animal welfare is critical in supporting Victorian industries to maintain access to important markets. For most Victorians, there will be no major changes to the way they operate daily.’

‘These laws will strengthen Victoria’s reputation as a humane and responsible producer of food – while being fit-for-purpose for modern day farming practices,' Dr Pisciotta said.

Key changes include minimum standards of care and requirements around husbandry procedures – which already feature in the existing codes of practice and Australian Standards and Guidelines for Animal Welfare.

The proposed laws recognise animal sentience – that animals can have positive and negative experiences.

Being explicit about this won't change how Victorians need to treat their animals, or whether they can be owned or used by humans. It won't create any legal rights for third parties, and it won't give animals legal rights.

Dr Pisciotta encourages interested community members, groups and organisations to make a submission and complete a survey about future regulations.

‘Please visit the Engage Victoria website, where you will find supporting materials to help you make a submission, including a guide to the draft bill and a list of Frequently Asked Questions,’ Dr Pisciotta said.

The consultation is now open until Monday 25 March.

For more information and to make a submission visit Engage Victoria.

Podcast – After the flood series – episode 5
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Episode 5 - Overcoming tragedy and shifting attitudes with Brad McEwan

Your mental health is important.

Some days are better than others, and we all need a helping hand sometimes.

Beyond Blue Ambassador, Brad McEwan, discusses how personal trauma can be the hardest part of recovering from a disaster and why a sense of community is important on this road to recovery.

Listen via the AgVic website

In case you missed it

Churchill Fellowships 2024 are now open

​Churchill Fellowships for 2024 opened on 1 March, offering people the opportunity to travel overseas for four to eight weeks to explore a topic or issue that they’re passionate about, and come back and share knowledge to improve their community.


GRDC – 'Paddock Practices: Manage green bridge to reduce virus/aphid risk in canola'


What's On

Details about Agriculture Victoria events can now be found in one spot on our website.

Log on to to find out what's on.

Landcare Victoria webinar – Fire and Gorse
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Register now for our upcoming webinar on fire and gorse, delivered in collaboration with Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, CFA (Country Fire Authority) and the Victorian Gorse Taskforce.

When: Tuesday, 26 March, 5:30 to 7 pm

Register here

The presentation will cover:

  • What exactly is gorse and where does it thrive?
  • Legal obligations surrounding gorse management
  • Understanding the fire risk associated with gorse
  • Effective control strategies for gorse control and/or eradication
  • Real-life case studies illustrating successful interventions.
Rochester/Elmore Farm Business Resilience Course - Workshop series
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Want to build a stronger, more productive farm business?

Where: All these face-to-face workshops will be held at Pine Grove Fire Station, 2691 Whinfield Road, Lockington.

Agriculture Victoria has the workshop series to help you build more resilience in your farm business.

You will leave each workshop with new skills and an action plan to achieve your business goals.

As a bonus, if you attend three or more workshops, you will secure a business planning one-on-one session with Senior Agribusiness Consultant Jane Foster from ORM Pty Ltd at the end of the workshop series.

Workshop 4 – Climate Risk and Natural Resource Management

Date: Tuesday 26 March
Time: 9 am – 12:30 pm

Topic: Seasonal Risk Agronomist, Dale Grey and Land Management Extension Officer Martin Hamilton, will deliver a workshop on understanding and identifying climate risk and natural resource management on farm.


For more information contact Elizabeth Alsop at or call 0457 838 537.

Joint Ag Vic, Riverine Plains and Towong Shire events
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Corryong - Wednesday, 27 March 10 am
Speakers: Dr Cassandra Schefe (AgriSci), Nick Linden (Agriculture Victoria)

Eskdale Hall - Wednesday, 17 April 9 am
Speakers: Brad Costin (Agriculture Victoria), Lachlan Campbell (NECMA), Julian Carroll (Mudgegonga Beef Producer)

Corryong - Monday, 22 April 10 am
Speakers: Sophie Hanna (Riverine Plains Livestock Officer) and Jane McInnes (Riverine Plains Senior Project Officer)

Registration is free for all events, to register CLICK HERE  

Playing the long game – Tangambalanga information forum
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SimpliFly AWI and Ag Vic workshop
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Sheep producers looking for information on managing flystrike are invited to join this free workshop. Jim Mekiff, JM Livestock will present on the following:

  • Brush up on the conditions required for flystrike and learn how to best disrupt them to reduce the incidence of flystrike on your property, and the impact of flystrike on your flock and your profits
  • Identify tools and strategies to manage flystrike and understand the balance of each to reduce your reliance on any one tool and use all the tools in your toolbox to their greatest effect
  • Create an individual flystrike management plan and annual calendar which combines tools and strategies for reducing your risk of flystrike.

Click here to register.

Attendance for this workshop is fully subsidised by AWI and Agriculture Victoria - working with Victorian farmers and industry to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, including floods and storms.

Soils workshop at Moranding

Do you want to learn how to use your soil test results to make better farm decisions?

Come along to a field day on improving pastures, soil health and productivity.

A free event featuring presentations and soil pit demonstration.

Thursday, 11 April, 9:30 am - 3 pm (please arrive at 9 am for registrations)

School House Lane and Hogans Lane, Moranding (look out for Landcare signs)

This event will be held outdoors, please wear enclosed footwear and dress for the conditions.

Guest speakers: Brad Costin (Agriculture Victoria); Lisa Warn (Lisa Warn Ag Consulting); Jim Shovelton (Meridian Agriculture).

  • Find out why we soil test and when to soil test
  • Learn how to read your pastures when taking core samples to know where to test
  • How to set up fertiliser strips to help identify constraints to pasture growth
  • Soil pit and soil interpretation - what grows below 10 cm?
  • Bring your soil test results for a one-on-one chat with a consultant.

Bookings essential - please book your ticket by Thursday 4 April.

Register HERE  

For enquiries please contact Kerri Robson: 0418 140 710 or

Calculating carbon for sheep and beef producers

Join Professor Richard Eckard of the University of Melbourne for a free workshop hosted by Agriculture Victoria to guide you through calculating emissions for your sheep or beef farm.

The workshop will be delivered in a hybrid format for participants to attend in-person or online via Zoom.

Date:    Thursday 4 April
Time:   9 am – 1 pm
Where: Lakeside Community Centre, Showgrounds, Benalla

Workshop program

  • Why you need to know your number
  • How carbon accounting works
  • Complete the MLA Carbon Calculator for your farm, learn about key indicators and trouble shoot problems (using your laptop or one supplied)
  • Question and Answer session with Richard and other Agriculture Victoria emissions specialists.

To register please click here

Light refreshments will be provided.

More information - some preparation will be required via supplied information and resources following registration.

For more information, please contact Kirstie Anderson, Project Leader, Innovative Beef and Sheep Networks on 0437 990 967 or at

Field day on improving pastures, soil health and productivity

Do you want to learn how to use your soil test results to make better farm decisions?

Join us at our field day on improving pastures, soil health and productivity.

A free event featuring presentations and soil pit demonstration.

Thursday 11 April, 9:30 am - 3 pm (please arrive at 9 am for registrations)

School House Lane and Hogans Lane, Moranding (look for Landcare signs)

**This event will be held outdoors, please wear enclosed footwear and dress for the conditions**

Register here today

Guest speakers: Brad Costin (Agriculture Victoria); Lisa Warn (Lisa Warn Ag Consulting); Jim Shovelton (Meridian Agriculture).

  • Find out why we soil test and when to soil test
  • Learn how to read your pastures when taking core samples to know where to test
  • How to set up fertiliser strips to help identify constraints to pasture growth
  • Soil pit and soil interpretation - what grows below 10 cm?
  • Bring your soil test results for a one-on-one chat with a consultant.

Bookings essential - please book your ticket by the 4 April

For enquiries please contact Kerri Robson: 0418 140 710 or at

SAVE THE DATE – BestWool/BestLamb and BetterBeef Conference

Plans are currently underway for the Agriculture Victoria BestWool/BestLamb and BetterBeef Conference and dinner to be held in a new location this year in Ballarat on 19-20 June.

The conference will be held over two days, 19 June BestWool/BestLamb and BetterBeef on 20 June.

Further details will be coming as plans are finalised.

2024 Landcare Forum

The 2024 Landcare forum will be held on Wednesday 8, Thursday 9 and Friday 10 May in Bendigo.

For more information click here

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Call 136 186 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobiles and public telephones).

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or

All contact points can be found at:

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