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.
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.
“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.’’