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Thursday 16 November 2023

In this edition:

Regional Drought Resilience Plans – have your say

Agriculture Victoria has been working with members of the Ovens Murray, Loddon Campaspe and Mallee communities to prepare a draft Drought Resilience Plan for the region.  

The Drought Resilience Plans propose themes, outcomes, and actions to better prepare the region for future droughts and help them to thrive in challenging times.

We invite all local community members to have their say on the draft plans by visiting EngageVic website before December 10 2023.

We encourage all interested parties to ‘follow’ the Regional Drought Resilience EngageVic page for updates.

The Ovens Murray, Loddon Campaspe and Mallee Drought Resilience Plans are the final 3 plans to be developed across Victoria’s 9 regions as part of the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund in partnership with the Victorian Government. 

Community feedback on the draft Plans for the Ovens Murray, Loddon Campaspe and Mallee regions is currently being sought.

Plans for Great South Coast, Barwon and Central Highlands are currently being finalised following input from community members.

Plans for Gippsland, Goulburn and Wimmera Southern Mallee have been published and are available to view online.

More information on the plans, the Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program and the Future Drought Fund is available on the Agriculture Victoria website. 

For more information on the development of Regional Drought Resilience Plan in the Ovens Murray region contact Rod Hayes.

For the plans in the Loddon Campaspe and Mallee contact Richard Soppe.

Responses close 10 December.

Keep your hives and bees healthy this summer
honeycomb in a hive

Keep your bees happy, healthy and productive as the weather warms up - bee aware of the biosecurity basics:

  • 🐝 Be aware of biosecurity threats, such as Varroa mite
  • 🐝 Practice good hygiene and sanitation
  • 🐝 Check your apiary and monitor hives and the health of the honeybee brood frequently
  • 🐝 Respect and be aware of laws and regulations established to protect the honeybee industry, Australian agriculture, and the local region
  • 🐝 Report anything unusual to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

For the latest information, visit or

Free financial counselling with RFCS
person in peaked cap looking at sunset

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 or call 1300 771 741.

Gains for breeding program from US trip
man with backpack on stairs behind sign, picture of lentils, conference room with presenter and students

Caption: (L-R) Dr Abeya Tefera at University of Florida, a lentil plant with applied AI mapping, Genomic Prediction Breeding lecture hall

The pulse breeding program at Agriculture Victoria’s Horsham SmartFarm is reaping the benefits from a researcher’s recent study trip to the United States.

Agriculture Victoria Molecular Plant Breeder, Dr Abeya Tefera, attended a Genomic Prediction Breeding course at the University of Florida with a special focus on applied artificial intelligence (AI) followed by field visits to the University of Minnesota.

The course brought together scientists from the private sector and public organisations who are interested in learning more about different prediction frameworks and how to integrate layers of data for plant and animal breeding.

Dr Tefera enjoyed fostering new ties with international peers for future collaboration and the skills he learnt have already helped inform new AI processes to study crop development and isolate climate resilient lentil and field pea varieties.

‘Our current advanced breeding strategies are already seeing rapid gains in genetic improvement and now with AI, we can incorporate additional data such as climate and crop development processes to selectively breed resilient traits into new varieties,’ said Dr Tefera.

‘Plants from our hi-tech glasshouses are photographed in the Plant Phenomics Victoria facilities at the SmartFarm and then we use Meta AI’s Segment Anything program to map varietal characteristics, such as boron toxicity and disease susceptibility; this can then be applied across thousands of lines within Horsham SmartFarm’s pulse breeding program.

‘Compared to manual methods AI is making this process more accurate and speeds up the delivery of newer and more resistant varieties within our breeding program.

‘Our research is all about accelerating genetic gain to create higher yielding and more resilient varieties and this new application of AI is a true feather in the cap for our breeding program.’

Dr Tefera’s research is a co-investment between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Agriculture Victoria.

Further information

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Pawsitive news for Victoria’s pets

The Victorian Government is improving Victoria’s animal welfare services and providing free or low-cost pet desexing services to pet owners in need.

Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence recently visited Second Chance Animal Rescue in Craigieburn to announce the successful recipients of the third round of the Pet Desexing and Equine Rehabilitation grants.

The overpopulation of dogs and cats poses a significant threat to our environment and also puts pressure on Victoria’s animal shelters – these grants tackle this problem by ensuring all Victorians – no matter their income, can desex their pets. 

The new round of grants includes $500,000 to support councils and not-for-profits to deliver free or low-cost desexing programs for cats and dogs and $330,000 to organisations that rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome horses.

Since 2021, the government has delivered more than $1.5 million in Pet Desexing grants to 32 organisations across the state.

Second Chance Animal Rescue has been awarded $75,000 in the latest round of the Pet Desexing Grants program and aim to host a series of free ‘desexathon’ days – with the goal of desexing 340 cats.

Minister Spence also officially opened applications for Round 11 of the Animal Welfare Fund Grants Program – offering grants of up to $200,000 to support animal shelters, community foster care networks, expand or upgrade their equipment or services – while also helping veterinary clinics provide low-cost services.

Eligible organisations can now apply for funding for projects that benefit companion animals such as rabbits, caged birds and ‘pocket pets’, in addition to cats and dogs.

Since 2014, the Animal Welfare Fund has awarded more than $10 million to not-for-profit animal shelters, foster care organisations and community vet clinics to improve companion animal welfare in Victoria.

The Victorian Budget 2023/24 builds on the government’s strong support for animal welfare and pets - with an additional $20 million to deliver more dog parks, establish a new wildlife hospital and support animal welfare organisations.

Applications for Round 11 of Grants are open until 9 December 2023.

To apply, visit

Helping Victorians choose a pet with confidence

The Victorian Government is helping Victorians find a puppy from a reputable breeder, ensuring the highest animal welfare standards for their new best friend.

Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence recently launched the new Commercial Dog Breeder logo which will be displayed by approved commercial dog breeding businesses in Victoria.

Potential dog owners looking to buy from a commercial dog breeder in Victoria should look for the new logo, which signifies the business is compliant with standard of care requirements – giving Victorians certainty that they are dealing with a legitimate commercial dog breeder.

The logo is a key element of the government’s reforms on dog breeding and pet shop industries to better regulate the sale of dogs and cats. 

Victorian dog breeders with more than 10 fertile female dogs are required to apply for commercial dog breeder approval and the new logo will help to give customers renewed confidence that their puppies are ethically sourced.

The welfare of our animals and wildlife remains a priority for the Victorian Government, receiving $18.5 million in the Victorian Budget 2023/24.

This includes $7 million towards the Animal Welfare Fund grants program, recognising the role companion animals play in the lives of Victorians.

For more information on the new Commercial Dog Breeders logo visit

Protecting Victoria’s abalone from virus outbreaks

A significant leap forward has been taken that will help keep Victoria’s abalone, a marine snail, safe and healthy.

A comprehensive new Code of Practice, that has been developed in close consultation with industry stakeholders, is a milestone initiative poised to ensure the safety and sustainability of Victoria’s abalone populations.

'This Code of Practice, a collaborative effort with key industry players who catch, process and grow abalone, represents a significant enhancement of biosecurity measures in place for Victoria’s abalone industry,' Agriculture Victoria Principal Veterinary Officer, Aquatic Animal Health Dr Tracey Bradley said.

'This important initiative represents a crucial step toward securing the wellbeing and future of our abalone population.'

The primary goal of the Code is to minimise the risk of outbreaks and the spread of abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG), a viral disease that affects the nervous system and can lead to weakness and death of abalone.

This objective will be achieved through the adoption of standardised operating procedures across the industry.

AVG presents a significant threat to both wild and farmed abalone populations, underscoring the urgency of effective control measures.

The virus first made its appearance in southern Victoria in late 2005, without previously being recorded in Australia. During that time, it was declared a notifiable disease under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.

'It’s imperative that we do everything possible to protect our abalone from this disease,' Dr Bradley said.

'Given the recent incidents of AVG affecting abalone in the Portland area, it’s more important than ever to prioritise collaboration across the industry.

'The Code of Practice provides clear guidelines and procedures to prevent the devastating impact of AVG.

The virus can spread through water but is fragile and doesn’t last long outside of a host.

It is essential for everyone involved in catching, growing, or processing abalones to adhere to the Code of Practice.

For more information, visit: Abalone Disease

A taste you can trace podcast – episode 7
a taste you can trace podcast episode 6

Traceability can help reduce food waste along the supply chain, ensuring fresh produce arrives at the end of its journey in top condition.  

In this episode, Luke Wood from Escavox discusses the tech used to follow food around the globe and how traceability can transform export businesses.

🎧🎧 Listen online via the AgVic website:

Farm fire preparedness tip – emergency access
Man, dog, woman, child on a gate looking into green paddock

Will emergency services know where to come in the event of a fire?

As part of your fire season planning, make sure roadside numbers are visible, vegetation around gates, culverts and bridges has been cleared, and gates are wide enough and easy to open.

Check out the tips on developing your farm map in our Fire Preparedness Toolkit.

Find and use our Farm Fire Preparedness Toolkit here.

Barley loose smut webinar recording now available
barley loose smut disease image

If you missed the Barley loose smut seasonal update for Vic and WA last month, you can watch the webinar at your leisure here.

Hear cereal grain pathologists Hari Dadu and Andrea Hill present on key topics including:
➡️ why has 2023 has had higher levels of loose smut compared to other years?
➡️ what is the carryover risk?
➡️ what is the best management strategy?


Victoria’s top MSA producers announced

Some of Victoria’s tastiest beef has been recognised in the 2023 Meat Standards Australia (MSA) Excellence in Eating Quality Awards, by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

Read the media release in full here.

Biosecurity matters for contractors

As the winter crop ripens rapidly in the southern state’s grain belt, thoughts of managing the harvest are front of mind for grain growers.

Read the media release in full here.

Prevent parasite impacts on your pig herd health

Agriculture Victoria has found roundworm (Ascaris suum) in one-third of pig herds tested as part of a free new animal health program.

Click here for more information.

Farm biosecurity simplified with new animations

Victorian livestock owners can brush up on their farm biosecurity knowledge using a series of easy-to-follow animations.

The 5 animations can be viewed on the Agriculture Victoria YouTube channel, the Agriculture Victoria website, social media feeds and online training resources and webinars.

New resources for grain farmers as dry finish looms

Victorian grain growers have a suite of new resources to help them prepare for, and deal with the effects of late frosts and a potential dry finish to the growing season.

Read the media release in full here.

Nominations for the 2023/2024 State and Territory Landcare Awards

Now in its 32nd year, the State and Territory Landcare Awards stand as a prestigious biennial national Landcare Awards program.

Find out more from the Landcare Australia website.

Nominations close Friday 1 March 2024.

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What's On

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

Visit to find out what's on.

Pyrenees and Smeaton BestWool/BestLamb Groups

Option 1

20 November
7 - 9 pm

Creswick Tennis Centre

Option 2

21 November
7 - 9 pm

Avoca RSL

RSVP and register by Friday 17 November here


The Pyrenees and Smeaton BestWool/BestLamb groups invite you to attend 1 of 2 sessions.

Come along and hear about the new ePacks.

Bring your device, smartphone, tablet or laptop. John Cox from AWEX will assist you to log in, create a farm account and be job ready for the next shearing.

Coopers Animal Health Advisor Rachael Holmes will explain their new product Flexolt, the first oral lice treatment for sheep.

Hear from Neil James from Agriculture Victoria on how to become a group member.

RSVP by Friday 17 November.

For more information contact Neil James, Agriculture Victoria, Ballarat on 0417 353 929 or email.

Hort Innovation International Consumer Demand webinar

Monday 20 November
2:30-4:30 pm



Join Hort Innovation for a deep dive into international consumer demand for the mango, lychee, melon, dried fruit, and olive industries.

To RSVP, please confirm your attendance here and you will be sent Microsoft Teams meeting details to add to your calendar.

For more information, click here.

EAD Preparedness Webinar 2: Waste Disposal

20 November
10 - 11 am


Register here


Agriculture service providers, industry bodies, agencies, and councils are invited to Agriculture Victoria’s webinar series on Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Preparedness.

During the webinar series, expert speakers from Agriculture Victoria will present important topics, including current risk outlook for an EAD incursion, key response activities following an EAD detection and the importance of farm biosecurity planning.


  • Waste generated in an EAD emergency - amounts and distribution
  • Overview of waste disposal strategy
  • On-farm carcass burial guidance
  • Planning ahead for on-farm waste disposal sites using the Navigating Farm Development tool

For more information, email Jennifer Shaw or call 0499 684 237.

MLA updates – Bendigo, 23 November
MLA updates 23 November 2023 Bendigo Victoria


The MLA Updates are coming to Victoria and will be on in Bendigo on November 23.

The MLA Updates is working around an umbrella theme of Sustainability from Paddock to Plate.

The day-long event will showcase solutions and technologies which embrace sustainability and help set Australia’s red meat and livestock industries up for success.

To register please click on this link.

This year’s venue is the Fosterville Gold Exhibition Centre at the Bendigo Showgrounds.

MLA’s AGM will also be held from 3:30pm onsite at the showgrounds.

Australian Women in Agriculture Conference 2023
woman with cow in background seedling in hands and woman standing in canola crop
Event Details

24-25 November




A conference to connect women in agriculture from across the nation with a variety of speakers who will inform, influence, innovate, invest and include.

Visit to learn more and register.

Joining confinement feeding and current opportunities workshops

29 - 30 November
8:30 am - 1 pm

Advantage Feeders Farm


While confidence isn’t high and income, in the short term, won’t be as high compared to the previous years, this is a great time to be assessing your production systems, making sure you are making informed decisions and not missing out on profitable opportunities when the majority are acting on pessimistic mentality.

The workshop will be bringing together information covering the important and timely aspects of livestock production:

  • Where the lamb and beef prices are heading
  • Containment/feedlot design
  • Developing low-cost maintenance rations
  • Important factors to get right for joining cows and ewes
  • Mineral supplementation for joining and summer grazing
  • Pasture walk – comparing 3 hybrid ryegrasses
  • Low cost haylage (30% moisture) production
  • Maximising production from summer crops.

Guest speakers

Cathy Bunter, Veterinary Officer, Agriculture Victoria

  • Summer mineral requirements
  • Optimal joining strategies.

Matt Dalgleish, Director, Episode3

  • Sheep turnoff ratio vs annual flock change
  • Forecast modelling and the key inputs.

Gerard Roney, Director, Advantage Feeders

  • Low-cost rations in containment
  • Managing excess protein in summer crops
  • Lambing every 8 months – pros and cons.
  • Xavier Bourke, Livestock Manager, TB White & Sons
  • Current cattle and sheep trading opportunities.

Register online here​ or call 1800 88 15 75.

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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.



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