80,000 livestock saved by bushfire fodder drive

In
a world now consumed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, farmers across Victoria
have reminded us all of the value of community and camaraderie as support for
bushfire affected farmers continues to flow.

Following
the bushfires at the start of the year that devastated much of eastern Victoria,
including the East Gippsland and Upper Murray region, the Victorian Farmers
Federation (VFF) coordinated a fodder drive for bushfire affected farmers.

Numbers
released by the VFF show the full extent of those assisted by the fodder drive with
16,540 bales and 113 tonnes of pellets donated and delivered to bushfire
affected farmers at the start of the year.

This fed 80,000 animals including cattle, horses, sheep and alpacas with over 400 farmers receiving assistance via the fodder drive.

Volunteers are vital in disaster relief situations. The @VicFarmers have had an influx of volunteers like Mick and Rick to help transport fodder from around the state to #bushfire affected regions. Thanks Mick and Rick for your hard work! #ThankAVolunteer pic.twitter.com/lsnLnAhYsv

— UDV (@VFF_UDV) January 30, 2020

VFF
President David Jochinke said the Fodder Drive was a team effort that stretched
the length and breadth of Victoria with hundreds of farmers and truck drivers
rising to the occasion to donate their fodder, time and transport.

“Our response to the 2020 bushfire was the most comprehensive in VFF’s history,” Mr Jochinke said.

“On behalf of the fire affected farmers and the VFF, I want to thank them for their generosity.

In what was another Team Australia moment, our farming community and transport sector along with the corporate sector and Victorians more broadly, came together to give a helping hand to farmers in crisis.”

VFF President David Jochinke

Gordon
Nicholas, a dairy farmers and Biggara CFA Captain, was one of the 440 farmers
who fed his animals via the fodder drive.

Although Gordon lost seventy of his heifers in the fires, his dairy cows survived. He was humbled by the donation.

Thank you to @CervusEquip_Aus Maffra dealership who gifted VFF a tractor to help load & unload trucks of donated fodder at the Bairnsdale Aerodrome for farmers impacted by #vicfires – including loading Australian Defence Force choppers to deliver to farmers without road access. pic.twitter.com/yEq1tZDtAM

— Victorian Farmers Federation (@VicFarmers) January 20, 2020

“I
have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity and I want to thank them and pay
particular tribute to the drivers who transported the fodder during this
difficult time,” Mr Nicholas said.

With
the fodder drive now closed, the VFF is shifting its focus from immediate
emergency response to longer term recovery which vice-president Emma Germano
says will be a long journey.

“Some
people are going to be hurting for years to come,” Ms Germano said.

“They
were hit with the trifecta of drought, bushfires and now COVID-19.”

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