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Loddon Mallee Ag News
Thursday, 15 December 2022

Thank you for your support throughout 2022. Wishing you and your families a wonderful holiday season.

Loddon Mallee Ag News will be back on deck on Thursday, 2 February 2023.

In this edition:
Latest news
Flood information
Image of a laptop with text that reads Flood recover events, resource and support. Click the link below to join our mailing list.

We are providing regular updates on upcoming events, past webinar recordings, resources and support available to flood affected Victorians via our flood recovery, events and resources newsletter.

To sign up click HERE

Recent webinar recordings:

Increased risk of Japanese encephalitis
Image of pig. Text on the left hand side of the image reads Japanese encephalitis. Flood waters have increased the risk of Japanese encephalitis to animal health

Flooding and heavy rainfall have increased the risk of a range of mosquito-borne diseases in Victoria, including Japanese encephalitis (JE).

JE can cause illness in susceptible animal species including horses and pigs.

In pigs, the most common clinical signs are mummified and stillborn or weak piglets while horses usually show no signs of illness but can present with fever, jaundice, lethargy, neurological signs and anorexia.

For mosquito control advice visit the Farm Biosecurity website.

For more information about protecting yourself from JE, please follow the Victorian Department of Health or visit Better Health.

Has your horticultural property been impacted by flood waters?
Flood safety and advice

For more information visit the Agriculture Victoria website.

Further information is available on the Horticultural Industry Network website ‘Recovering from Extreme Events’.

Additional resources for flood-impacted growers are available at the Food Authority Fresh Produce Safety Centre.

Financial support for flood-affected farmers
Image of flooded paddock. Image text reads Primary Producer Recovery Grants available now

A support package is available for flood-affected farmers:

  • Primary Producer Recovery Grants: Up to $75,000 grants to cover the cost of recovery and get businesses up and running again. Note: This replaces the $10,000 Primary Producer Flood Clean–Up, Relief Grants announced on 19 October. Producers that have received a Primary Producer Flood Clean–Up Relief Grant of $10,000 can now apply for up to a further $65,000 under the Primary Producer Recovery Grant, bringing the total to $75,000.
  • Rural Landholder Grants: Up to $25,000 grants to cover the costs of disaster impacts for small-scale producers.
  • Primary Producer Concessional Loans: Up to $250,000 to restore or replace damaged equipment and infrastructure, or to cover the short-term business expenses.
  • Primary Producer Transport Subsidies: Up to $15,000 to support the transport of emergency fodder or stock drinking water, and the movement of livestock.

To apply for support or for more information, visit the Rural Finance website. 

Practical tips for flood-affected farmers
Image of flooded paddock with trees and hay bales. Image text reads What to do after a flood - some practical tips for farmers

Go to our website for a range of practical flood recovery information for farmers, and helpful information on what to do immediately after a flood, including our Floods resource directory.

Are you taking care of yourself?
Image of two farmers walking down a muddy path

During an emergency, people tend to exist in a survival state to get through the incident, using up considerable emotional reserves. 

If you’ve been working hard for long periods, missing meals and sleep, take some time to take care of yourself.

Recognise the signs of stress and reach out for support if you need it.

For a comprehensive list of health support agencies, CLICK HERE

Rural Financial Counselling Service
Image of a map of Victoria. Image text reads You may be eligible for flood recovery finance and concessional loans

The Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) has an experienced team ready to assist primary producers and small rural businesses in recovery planning.

Additional funding has been made available for these services as a result of the floods, and the significant impact on the agricultural sector.

Financial counsellors can help develop financial forecasts and business plans required for lenders or investors, plus connect with support agencies and services.

RFCS provides free financial counselling to farmers and small related businesses who are in, or at risk of, financial hardship.

They can also assist with filling in forms and grant applications.

For more information or to book an appointment find your nearest  RFCS HERE

Chemical safety after floods
Image of chemical drum

Landholders in flood affected areas may face a range of issues related to the storage and use of chemicals.

Weed, pest and fungicide spraying may increase after floods. There may also be increased need for chemicals used on livestock, for diseases such as flystrike. Follow the label and ensure you don’t use chemicals past their expiry date.

Floodwaters may result in different pests or diseases to those you usually manage. To minimise risks please only use chemicals according to the label instructions.

Comply with any “DO NOT” statements, including those relating to spraying near waterways or on saturated ground.

Be cautious when using spraying equipment on flood affected areas as it may be less stable than normal.

As large areas are saturated there may be an increased need for aerial spraying. 

If chemicals are contaminated or damaged due to flood waters dispose of them appropriately e.g. via subsidised programs like ChemClear.

For more information on dealing with floods visit the Agriculture Victoria website

Be aware of the pitfalls of the Ruminant Feed Ban
Be aware of the pitfalls of the Ruminant Feed Ban

Dr Jeff Cave, Senior Veterinary Officer

Most producers are already fully aware of the Ruminant Feed Ban, which has been in place in Australia for over 25 years.

The Ruminant Feed Ban is the banning of the feeding of Restricted Animal Material (RAM) to ruminants e.g. sheep and cattle. 

You will see reference to the Ruminant Feed Ban and the presence or absence of Restricted Animal Material on the labelling of any bag of stock feed.

The Ruminant Feed Ban was introduced to help ensure Australia’s ongoing freedom from ‘Mad Cow disease’ also known as Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The ban ensures that even if the BSE disease agent were ever introduced to Australia it would not be able to establish a cycle of infection and result in disease. 

In other words, the Ruminant Feed Ban is protecting public and animal health, and the interests of our export trade. Detections of BSE overseas have led to the imposition of trading restrictions with significant detrimental impacts on the affected farmers and the industry.

Restricted Animal Material is defined as any material taken from a vertebrate animal including meat, meat and bone meal, blood meal, fish meal, poultry meal and feather meal, manure, and compounded feeds made from these products. Tallow, gelatin, milk, and milk products are not considered to be Restricted Animal Material.

Usually, it is clear whether a livestock feed has Restricted Animal Material that must not be fed to ruminants simply by reading the feed’s labelling. 

Unfortunately, there have been instances where producers have inadvertently exposed their livestock to Restricted Animal Material. 

The scenarios have included exposure of livestock to piles of poultry litter, and to offal, plus feeding bakery or restaurant waste or surplus, e.g., livestock waste vegetable oil that contained meat. All these scenarios later affected the producer’s ability to trade that livestock.

The take-home message is to consider whether any new source of feed you are planning to use contains Restricted Animal Material before introducing it to your livestock.  

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

Livestock Biosecurity Grants Fund Program
Livestock Biosecurity Grants Funds Closing soon. With image of a cow on right

Last call for applications for the Livestock Biosecurity Funds Grant Program.

Victoria’s Livestock Compensation Committees are seeking projects that boost biosecurity for the cattle, sheep and goat, swine and honey bee industries.

Applications close Friday 23 December. 

Discover more HERE

Milking the Weather – summer edition available now
Milking the Weather. Seasonal and climate risk information for the dairy industry

Milking the Weather provides seasonal and climate risk information for the dairy industry four times a year at the beginning of summer, autumn, winter and spring.

Information includes regional round ups for the previous season, seasonal climate outlook summaries, strategies on managing the season ahead and case studies on farmers managing climate risk successfully on their farms.

The summer edition features:

  • the Victorian seasonal climate summary for spring and the summer outlook
  • farmer case studies with Hans van Wees from Tinamba in the Macalister Irrigation District in Central Gippsland, Craig Dwyer from Bullaharre in South-West Victoria, and Brett Findlay from Towong Upper in North-East Victoria
  • tips on managing through summer
  • the latest seasonal soil moisture condition assessment.

Read the summer edition of Milking the Weather here, download a copy and subscribe to future editions.

Tips to recover bogged machinery safely
Image of a green paddock with a portion zoomed in showing wet ground.

With the recent flooding and significant rain events across the state, you may be worried about bogged machinery on your property.

Have a plan for recovery before starting work in the paddock:

  • check conditions before entering areas where the ground could be boggy
  • assess the situation:
  1. can you wait for drier conditions?
  2. can you dig out the farm machinery?
  • think about maps to show boggy areas to contractors and employees
  • reduce or remove weight from the machinery
  • use suitable recovery equipment – check the ratings of straps and shackles so you know the working load limit (WLL) and break strength, and how to interpret for recovery
  • minimise people in the recovery area
  • check the communication between machinery operators, for example, use a phone or UHF radio
  • use appropriate anchor points
  • consider where (if any) weight can be added to the recovery vehicle
  • consider which direction to tow the bogged machinery
  • consider how the recovery vehicle will be positioned
  • place a dampener onto the recovery equipment.

For more information visit Worksafe's agriculture page.

Foot-and-mouth disease information
Free biosecurity learning modules for farmers
Image text reads Biosecurity eLearning modules for farmers

Farmers across Victoria will benefit from a series of free online learning modules, helping them protect their animals from diseases and biosecurity threats.

Available through Agriculture Victoria’s website, the three learning modules have been released: foot and mouth disease awareness, lumpy skin disease awareness and Come clean, stay clean, go clean – when visiting farms.

Each module should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

For further information about the online learning modules CLICK HERE

Seed-saving strategies start at harvest
Picture of lentils in a petrie dish

Fungal diseases have hit grain crops across southern Australia hard this season, so growers need to plan their harvest to help them retain high-quality seed suitable for sowing next season.

Disease-affected seed is less likely to germinate, results in less vigorous seedlings and can carry and spread disease into the new crop.

Harvesting the healthiest part of the paddock first for retained seed and cleaning grain are tactics growers can use to avoid retaining poor quality seed affected by extreme weather and disease.

Dr Joshua Fanning, Research Leader – Plant Pathology, Agriculture Victoria, says pulses including lentils and faba beans have been severely affected by Botrytis, Ascochyta blight and Sclerotinia this year in some areas.

“There will be some crop failures, however growers will still have grain to harvest that may be suitable for retaining as seed,” says Dr Fanning.

“Growers will know which paddocks or areas of their paddocks that are least disease-affected and should harvest these areas first for retaining seed.”

This strategy ensures the best seed is removed early to prevent its further deterioration. It also keeps equipment clean to limit the potential of contamination with poor grain quality.

Dr Tara Garrard, Research Scientist – Cereal Pathology, South Australian Research and Development Institute, endorses this approach and further encourages growers to inspect the heads of their cereal crops before harvest.

“Get into the paddock and look for shrivelling or sprouting of the grain in the heads or any discolouration,” says Dr Garrard.

She adds that stripe rust, powdery mildew, Septoria tritici blotch and Fusarium crown rot have all been a problem this year due to the exceptionally wet conditions during the grain-filling period.

Cereal stem diseases occurring this season including crown rot and take-all have caused white heads, and field fungi growing on the outside of the head has affected seed viability and vigour in some regions.

“Growers can clean their seed to remove screenings, and if one batch of seed is severely discoloured, use seed from another block,” says Dr Garrard.

Both Dr Garrard and Dr Fanning recommend growers test the disease status, germination and vigour of their seed, before deciding to sow it next season.

“Don’t leave seed testing too late,” says Dr Fanning.

“Seed testing can take 4-6 weeks, so growers need to send their samples in by January or February to make sure they get the results in time to update their sowing plans.”

Growers can send seed samples to their state’s testing facilities at Agriculture Victoria and the South Australian Research and Development Institute.

Seed germination tests can be done at home too, and it is possible to observe the vigour and presence of early disease in seedlings when grown in pots.

If the quality of retained seed is inadequate, growers can look to purchase seed or sow seed saved from the previous year where it is available.

“Growers can also consider treating seed before sowing if they are concerned about carrying over disease,” says Dr Garrard.

For more information see the GRDC Retaining Seed fact sheet.

Seasonal worker safety information in language
cartoon image of tractor and two people in hi-vis

Our state’s seasonal workforce is vital for harvest, and we want to keep everyone safe and operational during this busy time.

Seasonal workers can face unique risks on farms, so Victoria’s Pacific Island community has worked with us to create straightforward safety resources.

The videos, posters, and guides can help with induction and training, and are available in five languages:

  • Bislama
  • Fijian
  • Tongan
  • Samoan
  • English

View the resources and share the link to help keep seasonal workers safe.

Tips from farmers: keeping a seasonal workforce safe

Jon Van Popering oversees all Australian operations at Seeka Australia, including nine orchards and two post-harvest facilities scattered through the Bunbartha area, just north of Shepparton.

Seeka employs a seasonal workforce from a diverse range of backgrounds and nationalities.

Jon approaches induction and training as if all staff are brand new, even if they’ve worked on other farms. This means everyone receives thorough and consistent information.

Watch WorkSafe's Q&A with John HERE, or visit the WorkSafe website for more tips from John.


Optimising seed-saving strategies starts at harvest

Fungal diseases have hit grain crops across southern Australia hard this season, so growers need to plan their harvest to help them retain high-quality seed suitable for sowing next season.

To read the full article CLICK HERE

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.

Traceability Hub Launch
Join us for the online launch of the Traceability Information Hub. REGISTER NOW

Are you an agribusiness looking to build or improve your supply chain?

Join us for the online launch of the Agriculture Victoria Traceability Information Hub.

Where: Online

When: Friday 16 December

Time: 10 - 11am

The Hub is a new resource for industry to access traceability information.

It provides a central, online place to inform, educate and connect businesses along the supply chain.

Register NOW to attend.

RESCHEDULED – Energy Webinar – Smarter electricity management: Doing more with less
image of a man weather a hat looking at at touch screen

Due to technical issues this webinar has been rescheduled for Monday, 19 December. 

Do you want to find more practical ways to reduce your electricity costs?  We are hosting an online forum to explore practical measures for increasing energy productivity and reducing your electricity bill.

When: Monday, 19 December, 11.30 am.

Smarter electricity management – see how your smart meter data can help you find for your farm (and home):

  • cheaper electricity deals
  • awareness of your electricity tariff to save money
  • how best to use solar and batteries
  • energy saving opportunities.

Join our webinar to find out all this and more money saving ideas.

Energy expert David Coote will be presenting on energy saving opportunities and best use of solar and batteries and much more.

Please register HERE or contact Kelly Wickham for information on 0456 772 641 or

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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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Subscribe to the Agriculture Victoria YouTube channel. 


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