While Australia's bushfire season is far from over, Queensland has been extremely lucky so far. However, our ongoing drought and depleted fodder stores mean that it's hard for us to provide financial or feed aid. I know that many QDO members have been at a loss to know how to help.
So, we were happy to be able to send QDO project officer Jade Chan down to assist the recovery efforts in the Bega region. Jade has been on the ground since Thursday last week and has been working alongside NSW Farmers Association, Local Land Services, the Australian Defence Force, Dairy Australia, MLA, Saputo and Bega Cheese to determine what assistance individual dairy farmers need and when and where.
The main emergency fodder supply (about 500t hay) was distributed late last week and the reserve supply has been activated and will be flowing out gradually. Fortunately, early fodder donations went to our dairying friends to minimise loss of production and address any feed gaps that were going to be present after the initial emergency fodder supply was exhausted. Lions NEED4FEED had their first donation delivered on Saturday with a total of 10 truckloads (eight semis and two B doubles) distributing feed throughout the region. Another NEED4FEED run is due on Australia Day.
Assessment of the infrastructure and interception of farmers has been done by the LLS, and the ADF has started and will continue over coming weeks. There are about 420 ADF personnel in and around the Bega valley doing recon on damages and clearing fence lines. A rough mapping of the fire scar shows that about 5000km of boundary fencing has been affected in the Bega Valley Shire and surrounds. The federal government has confirmed that boundary fencing on crown land will be funded by government and most repairs carried out by the ADF using local suppliers where possible.
It will be a long transition back towards business as usual for most farms so ongoing planning and support will be essential. Longer term recovery services and planning for post-crisis recovery is under way and will be led by the fantastic teams of volunteers from Blaze Aid, Rapid Relief, Rural Aid and CitySlickers Support.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the fires. QDO will continue to offer and provide assistance whenever and wherever we are needed.