Wednesday, 23 February 2011 12:12

Picking up pieces after the flood

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ALTHOUGH AREAS of northern Victoria may remain under water for months, the amount of damage wreaked by the state’s floods is slowly being assessed.

Flooding was prevalent in Victoria’s Wimmera District and the northern areas following the Murray and Loddon rivers. The flooding was caused by La Nina-influenced rainfall of 100mm to 300mm across two-thirds of the state in a week – unprecedented rainfall for January.

Several towns recorded their highest rainfall totals and many rivers broke their records for highest height. The heavy falls led to flash-flooding followed by major flooding in the Avoca, Loddon, Wimmera and Campaspe Rivers.

The Victorian Department of Primary Industries had surveyed 58% of the area inundated by water at the start of the month. It says about one-third of the state has been affected.

This comprised about 400,000 hectares and the early damage included the destruction of 2000 kilometres of fencing, 83,000 tonnes of hay and silage, more than 51,000 hectares of pasture and 41,000 hectares of field crops.

Early estimates suggest the total cost to the Victorian agricultural sector could be as high as $1.5 to $2 billion in lost production, damage to infrastructure and stock losses.

Mastitis and lameness will pose risks for dairy farmers as cows suffer the effects of milking delays cows and standing in wet paddocks. Dairy farmers in northern Victoria have pulled together and offered disused dairies, fodder and labor in a bid to keep everyone milking.

Floods caused by heavy rains in Tasmania have inflicted damage estimated at millions of dollars in the north east and north west of the state.

Queensland and northern NSW are still mopping up damage from the January floods.

Flood Response Groups in Queensland, northern NSW and Victoria were established after the floods by the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation and the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria. The grower groups held regular teleconferences to share information and prioritize activities with state government officials, as well as company field staff, dairy farm leaders, the dairy representative organizations and Dairy Australia staff.

Primary producers in Victoria can access State Government grants of $25,000 and low interest loans of up to $200,000 through Rural Finance. The government will also meet the cost of transporting donated fodder as part of an emergency fodder drive organised by the Bendigo Stock and Station Agents Association in collaboration with the Victorian Farmers Federation.

The Association has established fodder depots at Kamarooka and Pyramid Hill. Others may be set up at Kerang and Horsham. Landholders in north central Victoria can contact Bendigo Stock and Station Agents Association President Richard Leitch on 0428 351 413.

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ALTHOUGH AREAS of northern Victoria may remain under water for months, the amount of damage wreaked by the state’s floods is slowly being assessed.

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