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AustralianFarmers

Farmers on the front line as bushfires ravage Australia

Devastating bushfires have torn through huge swathes of Australia in recent weeks, devastating hundreds of farming communities.

South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales have born the brunt of the fires with over two thousand homes destroyed, 7.6 million hectares burned and 27 people confirmed dead. More than 1,000 rural properties have been effected with livestock losses expected to total tens of thousands once assessments are complete.

Fires across NSW and VIC are still burning, with easing conditions at the start of the week giving fire fighters a much-welcomed break.

As of today conditions and fire forecasts are tipped to be severe or extreme for much of the fire zone with total fire bans in place and emergency warnings in place for Victoria and South Australia.

National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said that while the most pressing issues were treating injured animals and ensuring they have access to food and water, ongoing support is needed.

“The bushfires have impacted thousands of farmers in recent days, with catastrophic impacts for many,” Ms Simson said.

“These farmers and their communities are tough, but they’ll need all our support to rebuild from this. It’s important that support reaches the ground quickly, and we’re working with authorities and our state members to ensure that happens.

“We know this is far from over, with conditions expected to deteriorate again in a few days’ time. I just encourage people to prepare well and stay safe.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Government would be committing an additional $2 Billion over two years with the establishment of a new bushfire recovery agency.

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“It’s a long road ahead and we will be with these communities every step of the way as they rebuild,” Prime Minister Morrison said.

“While the immediate focus for our emergency services and the Australian Defence Force is keeping people safe and defending against the fires hitting so many areas, we also need to be ready to hit the ground in communities where the fire-front has passed to help them rebuild.

“The Agency will ensure the work of state and territory governments is being supported and act as a ‘one stop shop’ central team to coordinate the response. We will do whatever it takes.”

Aside from the fires, Australia continues to suffer through one of the worst droughts on record with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) this week confirming the lived experience of many – that 2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record.

Ms Simson stressed the fact that the combination of the fires and current drought would see an increase in support needed for Australian farmers.

“2019 was a horror year for so much of the industry, with an escalation in the long-running drought bookended by devastating floods and fires,” Ms Simson said.

“The bushfires of the past few weeks have laid bare just how hot and dry 2019 was and whether it’s the drought or the recent bushfires, dry conditions are pushing many of our farming communities to the brink.

“It’s a situation that grows graver each day, and shows no signs of abating. We need an unprecedented response from government to help famers manage these unprecedented conditions.”

The recovery process from these fires will be lengthy, with thousands of people displaced and communities expected to rebuild.

Authorities in VIC and NSW are coordinating the donation of fodder for fire-affected livestock. Information on key contacts and where to donate can be found on FarmHub.

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