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Gippsland Ag New banner; black angus beef cows looking directly
Thursday 29 February 2024
In this edition:
Image of cows in a paddock with the text 'latest ag news'
Recovery assistance – 13 February storms 

The cumulative impacts of floods and more recently storms across Gippsland in the past few months has proved challenging for the farming community. Agriculture Victoria is continuing to support farmers with advice, referrals, and practical support.

Gippsland farmers who have experienced impacts from severe weather events can contact the Agriculture Recovery team on 0427 694 185 or at for assistance or advice, including technical support. 

When phoning or emailing, please provide details that include a contact name, phone number and locality, with a brief statement about the nature of your concerns, so an appropriate member of the Agriculture Recovery Team can contact you. 

Farmers who have urgent animal welfare needs should contact the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

Prolonged power outage
Prolonged power outage payment

If your household or small business has experienced a power outage for at least 7 days (and you remained off power as at 12:01 am on Tuesday 20 February), you may be eligible for a Prolonged Power Outage Payment of $1,920 per week for households and $2,927 for small businesses. Eligible customers will be notified by their power distribution business.

If you have been impacted by power outages and require assistance from Agriculture Victoria, please email the State Agency Commander at with:

  • Name of the owner and address of the affected property
  • NMI (meter number) of the affected property.

Power disruptions for more than 12 hours – major event day payment

If your power was disrupted for more than 12 hours during the February 2024 storm event, you are entitled to compensation. Under the Electricity Distribution Code of Practice, a distributor must make a payment to a customer of $90 if the customer experiences an unplanned sustained interruption of more than 12 hours on a major event day, such as extreme weather or a storm. This payment will appear as a credit on your power bill from your electricity retailer within 2 billing cycles of the day your power was out.

Bayindeen-Rocky Road fire situation – stay informed
Animal welfare staff talking. The text reads: call 1800 226 226 if you have any urgent animal welfare needs

Our teams are on the ground working with impacted communities to assess the agricultural impacts of the Bayindeen-Rocky Road fire. The situation is rapidly evolving so please stay up to date with current warnings by following VicEmergency.

The immediate focus for our team is urgent animal welfare needs and supporting our farmers. If your property has been impacted and you have urgent animal welfare needs, please contact the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

$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:

  • A $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
  • A $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 at or call the Emergency Recovery Hotline on 1800 560 760.

Don’t be calm – panic grasses can be deadly for lambs

Dr Jeff Cave, Agriculture Victoria Senior Veterinary Officer

Panic grasses have thrived in some crop stubbles and other pastures with recent summer storms. 

Some common names for panic grasses include fairy grass, witch grass and hairy panic. 

These grasses can cause photosensitisation and death, particularly in lambs.

The young, rapidly growing grasses contain steroidal saponins, which when eaten can form crystals in the liver, damaging the liver cells and obstructing the outflow of bile. 

The breakdown products of chlorophyll, which is found in green grass, are then no longer cleared by the liver and cause damage to skin tissues when exposed to light. 

So, the thin skinned, wool-free parts of the sheep which are exposed to sunlight get damaged and show signs like severe sunburn. Typically affected areas are the ears, eyelids, nose, lips and vulva. 

Affected lambs will seek shade and be reluctant to graze. 

The liver damage may lead to jaundice, and with the swelling caused by photosensitisation the condition is sometimes known as ‘yellow bighead’.

This liver damage can kill the lambs before photosensitisation develops.

The only treatment is to remove affected stock from the toxic pastures and provide them access to shade.

If this happens promptly, affected stock can recover completely, as the liver has a remarkable ability to heal itself.

However, some livers may never recover totally, and this leads to ongoing poor metabolic processing of food consumed.  So, food conversion efficiency will be poor, and the animals may never do well.

The best prevention is to avoid grazing risky paddocks. If this is not possible never put hungry sheep straight out onto risky pastures but give them a good feed of hay first. 

If possible, graze older sheep as they have better developed rumens and are more resistant to the effects of the toxin, and check the sheep twice daily until you are confident they have no ill effects.

For further advice please contact your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria Veterinary or Animal Health Officer, or in NSW your Local Land Services.

After the flood - episode 3: Hives in harm's way: navigating future weather events with Natalie Doran-Browne
After the flood - episode 3: Hives in harm's way: navigating future weather events with Natalie Doran-Browne

When we think of livestock on farms, it's usually the hooved variety. However, in Victoria, one of the biggest livestock varieties doesn't have hooves. They have wings. 

Hear from Natalie Doran-Browne from Wondermazing Honeybees as she discusses the road to recovery after the loss of hives in the 2022 floods, helped along by the support of the bee keeping industry.  

Listen via the AgVic website. 

Getting on with the job of disaster cleanup

A lead contractor has been appointed for the Australian and Victorian Government’s coordinated cleanup in the aftermath of the recent devastating fires and storms.

Hansen Yuncken is a disaster recovery specialist with the expertise to work on complex projects and will work with local sub-contractors to get communities back on their feet.

Cleanup activities for impacted households and communities will be jointly funded through the Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

The severe Victorian weather event of 13 February 2024 caused widespread damage right across Victoria with fires claiming 46 homes and a business in Pomonal and Dadswells Bridge, while the storms have left 44 homes uninhabitable in parts of the state including Mirboo North.

Demolition of damaged houses, asbestos and other hazard removal will be included as part of the cleanup in the affected communities while hazardous tree removal will also be part of the work completed.

The Victorian Government will also establish a centralised green waste facility for the cleanup and is continuing to work with the Commonwealth Government to finalise its location.

This program builds on the support being provided by the Australian and Victorian Governments, which includes:

  • Personal hardship payments of $640 per adult and $320 per child up to a maximum of $2,240 per eligible family to help cover the costs of essentials like food, clothing, medication and accommodation
  • Australian Disaster Recovery Payments for people affected by fires in the Rural City of Ararat. Payments of $1,000 per adult and $400 per child are available to that community
  • Emergency re-establishment grants of up to $49,300 for people who are uninsured and their primary place of residence has been destroyed or is uninhabitable
  • Prolonged Power Outages Payments of up to $1,920 per week for households and up to $2,927 per week for up to 3 weeks for affected small businesses
  • A Community Recovery Officer deployed to Ararat Rural City, Casey City, Cardinia Shire, South Gippsland Shire and Yarra Ranges Shire to help identify the recovery needs of individuals and families
  • The Emergency Recovery Hotline has been activated to process calls from anyone affected by fires or storms. To access recovery support, affected residents can call the Hotline on 1800 560 760.

The Recovery Support Program has also been stood up and is available for people to access via the Emergency Recovery Hotline on 1800 560 760. This includes mental health support, case management, business support and can connect people with the additional and existing services.

AgTech Innovators season 2, episode 2: Supporting AgTech startups with Guy Franklin
AgTech Innovators podcast. Supporting AgTech startups with Guy Franklin

‘Walk a mile in someone's shoes’, 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.

The Horticultural Netting Program now open
Nets 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.

Consultation on animal welfare laws extended
A blue background with the V for Victoria made out of various animals. The text reads 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 3 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.

For more information and to make a submission visit

Recording: Making sense of carbon and emissions for Victorian farmers
Sheep grazing under trees

Presented by Agriculture Victoria specialists: 

  • Heather Field
  • Graeme Anderson
  • Alison Kelly.

Victorian farm businesses are getting on with the job of growing more food and fibre, while dealing with changeable seasons and weather patterns. We also know more attention is being paid to the carbon and emissions performance of our agricultural industries and farms.

In this webinar recording, Agriculture Victoria's climate team share some tools and resources they have developed to support the farming communities of Victoria to make sense of carbon and emissions on farm.

View the recording.

Duration: 62 minutes (including questions)

Password: Climate

This webinar was originally presented on Tuesday 27 February 2024 at 12 pm

All climate webinar recordings can be found on our website.


Useful websites

Other program support for trees on farm

Citizen scientists hop to it with rabbit virus tracking project
A group of rabbits in a paddock

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, is calling on rural and regional Australians to join in the longest-running citizen science survey of rabbit diseases in the world, to help keep the invasive pest in check.

Feral rabbits are one of the most destructive invasive pest species in Australia.  

They compete with native animals, cause plant biodiversity loss, reduce crop yields and cost the agricultural industry around $239 million per year.

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), also known as Rabbit Calicivirus or Lagovirus, is used as a biocontrol agent to manage rabbit populations at the landscape scale in Australia. 

It only affects rabbits and hares, and vaccination is available for domestic (pet) rabbits.

New research shows the success of the 9-year disease monitoring program, which relies on members of the public taking tissue samples from dead rabbits found in their area using free sample kits provided by CSIRO. 

Samples can be taken from deceased wild or domestic rabbits.

CSIRO scientist Dr Maria Jenckel said the samples provided since 2015 have helped paint a better picture of the viruses circulating in wild rabbit populations.

'We encourage community members from across Australia, particularly in rural and regional areas, to contribute samples for testing so we can get the widest possible coverage across Australia,' Dr Jenckel said.

'Citizen science has expanded rabbit virus tracking from fewer than 30 samples tested annually to an average of 345 samples tested annually from 2015. 

'The program allows researchers to track the prevalence of rabbit virus RHDV, with samples arriving every week.'

CSIRO virologist Dr Nias Peng said the huge increase in citizen collected samples has allowed scientists to work on a much wider geographic spread as researchers don't need to collect the specimens directly. 

'A citizen science project such as this contributes directly to research on rabbit biocontrol, which has long term benefits for Australia’s biosecurity, native species conservation and ecosystem health,' Dr Peng said.

'It is therefore critical to sustain such programs for the long term to monitor for emergence of new RHDV incursions and/or recombinant variants which may affect wild and domestic rabbit populations.'

Funding for this program was originally provided by the Australian Government through the Invasive Animals CRC, the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions and CSIRO.

Funding to continue the program is currently being provided by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

To request a free test kit, email the research team at with your postal address.

Bolstering native food markets through blockchain

The Victorian Government is helping to bolster the native foods industry by supporting Traditional Owners with new options to track and sell native foods through blockchain.

Around 70 native foods business practitioners attended the inaugural First Nations Native Food Blockchain Workshop at Healesville recently.

The workshop was delivered by the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub in partnership with Agriculture Victoria and the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owners Corporation (FVTOC).

Over 2 days, the workshop explored the potential for blockchain technology to support positive outcomes for Victorian Aboriginal native food businesses. The workshop also focused on ways in which blockchain can support and uphold Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property rights for Victorian Traditional Owners.

Blockchain technology offers new abilities for data management and governance by enabling decentralised and tamper-resistant storage. It enables new and unique ways to further enable Aboriginal self-determination and data sovereignty for First Nations people within the native foods and botanicals industry.

The technology also offers a secure and transparent system for tracking product authenticity, with the ability to store and manage traditional knowledge and stories.

This workshop aligns with the objectives of the Traditional Owner Native Food and Botanicals Strategy, developed by the FVTOC and the Victorian Government in 2021, which laid out a plan to create a strong, authentic and sustainable bushfood sector.

Fox and wild dog bounty resumes
A fox. The text reads: fox and wild dog bounty resumes. Victoria's bounty collections will resume on 4 March 2024.

Victoria’s bounty collections will resume 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.

Free financial counselling with RFCS
A person standing in a paddock looking at the sunset. The text reads free financial counselling with the Rural Financial Counselling Service. 1300 771 741.

Have you been impacted by recent floods, fires or dry seasonal conditions?

The Rural Financial Counselling Service provides a free and confidential financial counselling service to eligible farmers and small related enterprises who are experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship.

They can help you to access available support, analyse your business situation, negotiate with lenders and develop strategies to improve your financial position. 

To find your closest service visit the Rural Financial Counselling Service website or call 1300 771 741.

In case you missed it
Image of a sunset with the text 'in case you missed it'

Expanded eligibility for power outage payments

The Australian and Victorian Governments will continue to support Victorians impacted by severe weather this summer.

The eligibility criteria for the Prolonged Power Outage Payments (PPOP) is being extended to reflect the unique nature of 2 extreme storm events in short succession.

Read the full media release here.

Do you know how you can protect your poultry from the risk of avian influenza?

Watch our recent webinar to learn about the important actions you can take to protect your poultry.

Although there haven’t been any detections of high pathogenic avian influenza in Victoria since 2020, Australia is currently facing an increased risk.  All poultry owners play a crucial role in preparing and keeping their birds safe.

The recent webinar heard from our biosecurity and veterinary experts about what’s happening overseas with highly pathogenic avian influenza, and how Victoria would respond to an outbreak.

Watch the recording here.

Anthrax vaccination program continues in Shepparton

Agriculture Victoria is continuing to vaccinate livestock at properties in the Shepparton region, following the recent detection of anthrax on 2 farms.

Almost 6,000 cattle and sheep have been vaccinated as part of the response so far, with private veterinarians working alongside members of Agriculture Victoria’s Animal Health team.

No further cases of anthrax have been detected.

Read the full media release here.

What's on
Image of a group of people at an event in a green paddock listening to a presenter with the text 'what's on: online and on-farm events'

Details about Agriculture Victoria events can be found in one spot on our website. Log on to the Events page to keep in touch with upcoming events.

Stock sense farming essentials webinar series

When: 14 February to 20 March, 6 - 7:30 pm

Register here.

Join a 6-part webinar series on the essential elements of farm ownership. Each session offers practical insights and expert advice to empower you on your farming journey.

Topics include: 

  • Owning or buying a farm: assessing what you want and have
  • Farm layout and essential facilities
  • Buying animals: what you need to know
  • The first few months – a critical period
  • Animal health, nutrition and welfare
  • The long-term plan – sustaining your farm.
Victorian Apiarists Association Recreational Beekeepers Conference
Recreational beekeepers conference

Successful beekeeping in challenging times.

When: March 9, 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.

Joel Williams Roadshow - Flynn, Yarram, Bairnsdale, Orbost and Omeo
Joel Williams Roadshow

Joel Williams from Integrated Soils is visiting Gippsland in March. He is an independent plant and soil health educator with an interest in designing farming systems. 

  • Wednesday 13 March, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm - Flynn Hall
  • Thursday 14 March, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm - Yarram Recreation Reserve
  • Friday 15 March, 5 - 9 pm - Gippsland Agriculture Centre
  • Monday 18 March, 9:30 am - 1 pm - Orbost Football Club - Lochiel Park
  • Tuesday 19 March, 9 am - 1 pm - Omeo Recreation Reserve.

Register here.

GippsDairy Muster - Pastures, Pathways, Performance

The GippsDairy Muster 2024 will showcase the latest trends, technologies, and practices in dairy farming. Hear insights from industry experts and local farmers on ways to optimise your pastures, business succession plans, and overall performance.

When: Thursday 14 March, 9:30 am - 3 pm 

Where: On-farm in Trafalgar, address provided after registration

Register here.

Today, Tomorrow and Beyond - Genetics Australia Conference
GA 2024. 18 & 19 March 2024, GMHBA Stadium, Geelong. Today, Tomorrow and Beyond.

Where: Monday 18 March - 9:30 am – Tuesday 19 March 4 pm

Where: GMHBA Stadium, 370 Moorabool Street, South Geelong

Register here.

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

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

MLA Goat Roadshow: webinar + Q and A
MLA Goat Webinar and Q&A

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.

When: Tuesday 19 March - 7 pm

Register here.

Women in Agriculture - Business of Farming
Women in agriculture, business of farming

When: Thursday 21 March 9 am - Friday 22 March 3:30 pm

Where: Lake Tyers Caravan Park

Price: $50 pp. 

Register here.

Business of Farming is a 2-day workshop on preparing the books for June 1. The event will focus on budgeting, bookkeeping, finance, and more. An added bonus is the opportunity to network with fellow women farmers and learn from their experiences. The 2 days include shared accommodation and meals.

2024 Landcare forum

Save the date! 

The 2024 Landcare forum will take place Wednesday 8, Thursday 9 and Friday 10 May in Bendigo. More details to come. 

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