Forward this email | View in web browser
Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 7 March 2024
In this edition:
Support and resources for fire affected farmers
what to do after a bushfire

Agriculture Victoria teams have been on the ground supporting farmers with animal welfare and making impact assessments following the recent fires.

Agriculture Victoria State Agency Commander Banjo Patterson said the immediate focus was any urgent animal welfare needs caused by the fires.

‘If your property has been impacted by fire and you have urgent animal welfare needs, please contact the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.’

As of 4 pm on Sunday there were approximately 270 livestock and 2,400 hectares of grazing pasture lost, and 1,700 kilometres of fencing impacted due to the Bayindeen-Rocky Road fire.

Farmers and primary producers affected by the recent fires are encouraged to activate their post-fire plans and actively manage their livestock needs.

Mr Patterson said after a fire has come through on your property it’s important to have a plan to deal with the aftermath, both in the first few days and following weeks.

‘A good place to start is the Agriculture Victoria website which has plenty of information about what to do immediately and in the longer term’, he said.

There is practical advice around personal health and wellbeing, water management, soil and pasture recovery, fencing, pest control and financial support.

An emergency feed and water budget to help you determine your livestock’s short-term needs is also available to download.


Support is also available through the Rural Financial Counselling Service.

Farmers and small related enterprises who are experiencing, or are at risk of, financial hardship can call 1300 771 741 for free and confidential financial counselling.

$21M for council clean-up and assistance after Victorian storms and floods

The Australian and Victorian governments are continuing to support disaster-impacted communities, with more than $21 million in assistance to support immediate and long-term recovery following the storms and floods which commenced on 24 December 2023 through to mid-January 2024.

The assistance is being provided through the jointly-funded Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

The funding package includes:

  • $13.1 million Clean-up Program to deliver all-hazards assessments, conduct make-safe and demolition works for impacted and uninsured residents, as well as support for the removal of flood debris – coordinated by Emergency Recovery Victoria
  • $8 million Council Support Fund to support impacted councils to clean-up and restore community assets, facilities and services – as well as make repairs to infrastructure like walking trails, playgrounds and sporting fields.

This support will be available in the 29 Local Government Areas (LGAs):

Alpine Shire, Baw Baw Shire, Ballarat City, Benalla Rural City, City of Greater Bendigo, Buloke Shire, Campaspe Shire, Cardinia Shire, East Gippsland Shire, Gannawarra Shire, Glenelg Shire, Greater Shepparton City, Indigo Shire, Loddon Shire, Macedon Ranges Shire, Mansfield Shire, Melton City, Mitchell Shire, Mount Alexander Shire, Murrindindi Shire, Nillumbik Shire, Northern Grampians Shire, Pyrenees Shire, South Gippsland Shire, Strathbogie Shire, Rural City of Wangaratta, Warrnambool City, Wellington Shire and Yarra Ranges Shire.

Emergency Recovery Victoria is continuing to work with impacted councils to understand the assistance required to support communities following the storm and floods.

For more information on recovery support visit the Emergency Recovery Victoria website or call the Emergency Recovery Hotline on 1800 560 760.

Help implement Victoria’s new Biosecurity Strategy

Agriculture Victoria is calling for applicants to join the Biosecurity Reference Group and help implement Victoria’s new Biosecurity Strategy.

Agriculture Victoria Executive Director Katherine Clift said the Biosecurity Reference Group would play a vital role in ensuring Victoria’s biosecurity response reflects the entire system.

‘The new Biosecurity Strategy outlines how we can work together to manage biosecurity risks and build our resilience to emerging threats,’ Dr Clift said.

‘That’s why it is important the Biosecurity Reference Group is filled with people from across Victoria’s biosecurity system who can represent the many different interests that biosecurity touches.’

Applications are invited from people from all affected groups, including Traditional Owners, agriculture, supply chain, community and environment.

The original Biosecurity Reference Group played a pivotal role in guiding the development of Victoria’s new Biosecurity Strategy.

Their expertise ensured the strategy prioritised collaboration and engagement across the biosecurity system to respond to issues, marking a significant shift in Victoria’s biosecurity policy.

Dr Clift emphasised the importance of continuing to strengthen how Victoria manages emerging biosecurity threats such as foot-and-mouth disease and red imported fire ants.

‘The renewed Biosecurity Reference Group will help guide the implementation of the strategy, including how we should measure success,’ Dr Clift said.

‘This will help safeguard our farms and parks, pets and gardens, our native plants and animals, the safety of our food, cultural integrity of our landscapes and success of our industries.

Submit an expression of interest to join the Biosecurity Reference Group visit by 5pm Wednesday, 3 April.

Don’t forget to register online to receive updates on implementation and upcoming engagement opportunities.

Prepare for hot weather this weekend
avoid livestock heat stress

With parts of the state expecting extremely hot weather over the weekend, it’s important to ensure your animals have access to sufficient shade and lots of cool water to avoid heat stress.

Stay safe and follow VicEmergency for updates.

Click here for more information for caring for animals during extreme heat.

After the Flood podcast series - episode 4
agriculture victoria agvictalk

Episode 4: On the right track to recovery with Simone Murdoch and Darryl Pearl

Future planning and controlled traffic farming can help mitigate natural disasters and their long-term effects.

In this After the flood podcast episode, Simone Murdoch chats about how her family made key decisions during a flood by removing emotion from the conversation. 

Darryl Pearl, from Agriculture Victoria, also gives some tips on controlled traffic farming and how it can benefit properties in the long-term.

Listen via the AgVic website

Fall armyworm commands growers' attention
fall armyworm and eggs on a green leaf

Victorian agronomists and growers should be vigilant in crop surveillance for Fall armyworm (FAW), following the impacts the pest is having on crops in Queensland.

Fall armyworm has rapidly spread across Australia after being found in Queensland in January 2020 and is now established in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Western Australia and parts of Victoria.

Agriculture Victoria Plant Pests and Diseases Manager Chris Pittock said a collaborative effort between government, industry and the community is crucial to effectively manage pests such as Fall armyworm.

‘If agronomists and farmers find Fall armyworm on their property, they should seek professional advice for treatment and management.

‘Given this pest is established in some parts of the state – we have adapted our practices to manage it. We have been able to watch what has happened in the northern states and learn from their experiences.’

‘Detections of concern to us would be if the pest is found outside of central Victoria near the Murray River, and some parts of Gippsland.’

Agriculture Victoria has been leading the State response for the National Fall armyworm project, which is coordinated by Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF).

The project aims to support Australian growers with the latest information and tools to manage FAW.

Early detection of FAW is important to ensure producers are making decisions in observance with best practice methods of control, and to reduce the likelihood of resistance occurring in the pest.

For the most up-to-date information on how to identify and prevent FAW, check out the Fall Armyworm Beatsheet.

Agriculture Victoria is monitoring the distribution of Fall armyworm across Victoria.  You can report a sighting by contacting the Customer Contact Centre on 136 186 or by completing the Online Reporting Form.

About Fall armyworms

  • Fall armyworm has adapted to warm tropical and sub-tropical areas in northern Australia and can migrate rapidly and be spread by storm events
  • Fall armyworm feed on maize, sweet corn, sorghum and sugarcane, and experiences in Queensland have also shown a high preference for feeding on corn, even though wheat, millet and sunflowers were nearby
  • Adult moths are 32 to 40mm in length, wing tip to wing tip, with a brown or grey forewing and a white hind wing
  • Male fall armyworms have more patterns and a distinct white spot on each of their forewings.
  • Eggs are pale yellow in colour and clustered together in masses, which often contain 100 – 200 eggs per mass. Egg masses are usually attached to foliage with a layer of mould/silk-like furry substance
  • Newly hatched larvae are light coloured with a larger darker head and then develop white stripes lengthwise as the larvae darken and grow to about 34mm in length.

For the latest information on FAW from across Australia:

Fall armyworm - The Beatsheet

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries - Fall armyworm research, development and extension for horticulture

Consultation on animal welfare laws extended
help shape Victoria's new animal care and protection laws

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

Victorians now 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 open until Monday, 25 March.

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

Horticultural Netting Program
netting over an orchard

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.

Tackling emerging livestock biosecurity challenges

The Victorian Government is bolstering Victoria’s biosecurity system with funding for projects that help prevent, monitor, and control pests and diseases in livestock.

Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence recently opened applications for the 2024 Livestock Biosecurity Funds grants program.

Victoria will continue to face new and emerging biosecurity risks – driven by climate change, increasing trade and travel, and changing land use – and innovative new solutions are critical to protecting Victoria’s $20 billion agriculture industry.

The Livestock Biosecurity Fund grants program supports projects that adopt new and emerging technologies to respond to livestock biosecurity issues, encourage collaboration, and deliver quantifiable benefits to the livestock industry.

Agriculture Victoria and the state’s livestock compensation advisory committees developed the grants program which is funded through duties generated by the sale of cattle, sheep, goat and pigs and their carcasses in Victoria, and using beekeeper registration fees.

Prospective applicants joined an online forum today to hear from the livestock compensation advisory committees about what they are hoping to see in applications this round.

Previously funded projects included the Victorian Farmers Federation popular producer-led Stock Sense Livestock program, which received $2.19 million over the past four years.

The program helps Victorian livestock producers adopt animal health and production practices that improve animal welfare and Victoria’s biosecurity status.

Another project supported through the program is the Electronic National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) (Sheep) tags.

This has helped maintain the low-disease status of Victoria’s sheep and goat industries and protects Victoria’s reputation in domestic and export markets as a supplier of wholesome meat and dairy products.

Applications close on 15 April, to apply visit

AgTech podcast - Agtech Innovators Series 2
agtech innovators grants, angels and sidecars with Kate cornick

‘Walk a mile in someone's shoes’, is a mantra that also applies when it comes to supporting startups. 

Guy Franklin has walked the path of developing his own tech venture and is now supporting others to do the same. 

Being clear on who your customer is, how big the market is and why this is such a big deal, is some of the advice Guy Franklin provides in this episode of AgTech Innovators. 

Listen online via the AgVic website

Fox and wild dog bounty resumes
Bounty banner image

Victoria’s bounty collections resumed on 4 March 2024.

Please continue to check our website for the latest information, collection centres and dates. CLICK HERE

For any assistance, please speak to our bounty collection staff on collection days or call our Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

In case you missed it

Cat desexing grants for Victorian councils now open

The Victorian Government has committed $300,000 to run a trial program to increase cat desexing rates, address cat over-population and support vulnerable cat owners.

Councils can now apply for grants of up to $25,000 to deliver targeted cat desexing programs within their community.


Churchill Fellowships 2024 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.


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.

Victorian Apiarists Association Recreational Beekeepers Conference
victorian apiarists association melbourne, recreational beekeepers conference

Successful beekeeping in challenging times

  • WHEN: March 9
  • TIME: 9 am - 5 pm
  • WHERE: Victorian Croquet Centre, 65 Nobel Banks Dr, Cairnlea.

This 1-day conference will include live hive demonstrations as well as presentations with an emphasis on meeting the challenges of beekeeping in the presence of varroa. 

Agriculture Victoria apiary team members Nikki Jones and Adam Maxwell will be presenting. 

Book now, places are limited.

Register here.

People management, planning for success - Colac and Hamilton

Beef producers in the Colac and Hamilton areas are invited to a free farm business success workshop with Helen Chenoweth, Agriculture Victoria Business Resilience Officer.

Helen will share her experience and knowledge in employing workers and creating great teamwork on farms, including working with family members.

People management can be challenging if you’re not up to date with the right information. Helen will cover important aspects of employment such as recruitment, legal requirements, wages and superannuation to set you up for success.

Get all the tips and tools to create a productive, positive workplace culture, how to attract and retain staff and how to deal with conflict. Helen will also touch on where to start with succession planning and farm safety.


  • DATE: Tuesday 12 March
  • TIME: 10 am - 2 pm
  • WHERE: Colac Racecourse, 'Dusty Rhodes Bar' 36 Colac-Lavers Hill Road, Elliminyt.


  • DATE: Tuesday 19 March
  • TIME: 10 am - 2 pm
  • WHERE: Agriculture Victoria office, 915 Napier Road, Hamilton
Feed budgets and decision making - Ararat
cam nicholson kneeling in a green paddock

Sheep producers in the Ararat area are invited to a free farm business success workshop with Cam Nicholson, Director of Nicon Rural Services.

Cam is a consultant with over 30 years' experience in feed budgeting and decision making.

Explore the tools and principles of feeding your sheep, feed budgeting and preparing for the autumn break, managing climate variability and seasonal risks.

Cam is well known for his decision making – setting trigger points for decision making such as knowing what to feed and how to decide when to sell versus supplementary feeding.

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

DATE: Wednesday 13 March

TIME: 10 am - 3 pm

WHERE: Agriculture Victoria, Ararat office, 233-239 Barkly Street, Ararat.


Agriculture and emissions — research updates and what can we do now?
black and white cows with collars eating from a trough

Take this opportunity to hear from our interesting speakers about the always evolving area of agriculture, emissions, and climate.

WHEN: Thursday 14 March

TIME: 10:45 am - 1:30 pm

WHERE: Carmichael Room, City Bowls Club, 50-58 Cramer Street, Warrnambool.


Topics covered include:

  • research underway at Agriculture Victoria's, Smart Farm at Ellinbank
  • Options available to help reduce emissions on-farm
  • Agriculture Victoria's On-farm emissions action plan project.

Guest speakers:

Professor Joe Jacobs – Agriculture Victoria

  • Joe is the Research Director for Agriculture Victoria, based at the Ellinbank Smart Farm. Joe has an extensive history in dairy research and development and is an engaging and thought-provoking speaker.

Graeme Anderson – Agriculture Victoria

  • Graeme is the Program Manager, Climate Change. Graeme is at the forefront of climate extension and is one of the driving forces behind the On-Farm Emissions Action Plan Project. Graeme's knowledge and understanding of climate change and the impact on Victorian agriculture is second to none.
Today, Tomorrow and Beyond - Geelong

DATE: Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 March

WHERE: GMHBA Stadium, 370 Moorabool Street, Geelong

TIME: 9:30 am - 4 pm


The Conference will host a diverse audience of local and international speakers, farmers, and industry delegates from the dairy and beef sectors.

The central theme of the conference revolves around the future of cattle breeding, incorporating cutting-edge technologies, and showcasing new industry research and ideas.

The overarching objective is to inspire the next generation to leverage genetics in advancing top-tier dairy and beef operations while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint of these industries.

Agriculture Victoria Research Director Professor Jennie Pryce will present as part of the conference on breeding for sustainability and resilience, while Research Scientist Dr Jo Newton will talk on the role of genetic improvement in creating greater integration between our dairy and beef industries.

Calculating carbon for sheep and beef producers

WHEN: Tuesday 19 March

WHERE: Mercure Hotel and Convention Centre, 613 Main Rd, Ballarat

TIME: 9 am - 1 pm


Join Professor Richard Eckard to learn why carbon is important, how to calcuate your farm emissions and be part of an interactive question and answer session.

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

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 troubleshoot problems (using your laptop or one supplied)
  • Question and Answer session with Richard and other Agriculture Victoria emissions specialists.
MLA Goat Roadshow Webinar
MLA goat webinar banner image

DATE: Tuesday, 19 March

TIME: 7 pm.

Are your goats fit to load? Are you planning to sell goats soon?

Make sure you understand your roles and responsibilities in ensuring animals are fit to travel before you start loading.

This free Meat & Livestock Australia Goat Roadshow webinar is designed to provide useful and practical insights on how to ensure your goats are fit to load before transport.

Hear from NSW DPI's Dr Petrea Wait, Agriculture Victoria’s Dr Berwyn Squire and Integrity Systems Company’s Elizabeth Bradley who will provide who will provide an overview of the Fit to Load legislation, plus on-farm advice for ensuring you meet animal welfare obligations, including the importance of checking animals prior to transport, your responsibilities and how to comply with NVD and NLIS requirements.

MLA invites goat producers to join to find out more on:

  • Understanding when an animal is and isn’t fit to make a journey
  • Preparing animals for transport
  • Individual roles and responsibilities in ensuring animal welfare
  • Practical tips and resources available
  • Livestock traceability - understanding LPA requirements around animal welfare, completing NVDs and updating the NLIS database.

Make sure you understand your responsibilities in ensuring compliance with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock.

To register for this webinar, click here

Southern Farming Systems events

March 13 - Open Trial Site Inspection - Rokewood

March 25 - Sheep Containment Workshop – Dunkeld

March 27 - Sheep Containment Workshop – Inverleigh

Find out more at

Calm the Farm event - Inverleigh

Are you interested in reducing risks to mental health in your farm workplace by improving your work systems, or doing things a bit differently?

Join us for an interactive and engaging two-hour workshop that explores ways of reducing work-related stress.

Connect with other local farmers as you focus on practical solutions to improve job satisfaction and effectiveness for you and your team. Continue the conversation over a nutritious meal – ON US!

WHERE: Inverleigh Public Hall, 71 High Street, Inverleigh

WHEN: Tuesday 26 March

TIME: 5 pm for a 5:30 pm start, followed by dinner.

RSVP is essential by 18 March to Hannah Walker or Brooke Greig on (03) 5267 1200 or

2024 Landcare Forum - Bendigo

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

Find out more at

Subscribe to Barwon South West Ag News

Enjoying the Barwon South West Ag News? Then why not forward to a friend or subscribe yourself.

It's easy – simply click this link.

Contacting Agriculture Victoria

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:

Don't forget to check out Agriculture Victoria's social media sites for up-to-date information and news.



'Like' our Agriculture Victoria Facebook page.


Follow us on X (formerly Twitter) @VicGovAg


Subscribe to the Agriculture Victoria YouTube channel. 


Email -