Farmers have been inundating an emergency hotline after the devastating east coast floods, with more than 100 dairy farms impacted.
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Feed and stock welfare are the priorities for NSW flood-affected farmer. Photo by Simon Ruppert

The NSW Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services have activated the Agricultural and Animal Services Functional Area hotline (1800 814 647), which supports NSW SES in assisting flood-affected farmers and land managers across NSW.

Farmers and community members can call the hotline to report stranded, lost, injured or deceased livestock so animals can be assessed, attended to, or removed.

As of March 9, the AASFA hotline has received more than 800 calls from farmers requesting emergency fodder, aerial surveillance, and veterinary assistance for flood-affected livestock in less than a week.

More than 1350 tonnes of fodder have been supplied and another 500,000 tonnes allocated to livestock owners who have requested assistance. Aerial fodder drops are underway to assist owners manage the welfare of stranded or isolated stock.

DPI understands that at least 73 dairy enterprises have been impacted by the floods on the north coast. As the storm event continues, a DPI spokesman said there could be upwards of 100 dairies impacted.

The spokesman said the full extent of the damage to these enterprises was still unknown, with access and communications still having significant impacts on producers.

“Stock losses have been recorded and the impact per enterprise does vary,” the spokesman said.

“Significant dumping of milk has occurred where producers have been able to get back to milking but access for tankers is limited.”

The current priority for the AASFA response is animal welfare and ensuring that producers can contain and assess their livestock. The department is working closely with the industry and supply chain to undertake the response and the transition to recovery.

An email request hotline is supported by the call centre for those who do not have phone service and do have email service: aasfa@emergency.dpi.nsw.gov.au

Dairy Australia NSW regional manager Paul Van Weel has a team calling farmers to get an understanding of their situation and make sure they are getting the right support.

“The biggest challenge for anyone significantly flood affected is feed, stock destruction and disposal sorted out,” he said.

The moods of many dairy producers have been boosted by the first quarter performance of their dairy. With significantly higher milk check prices year-over-year, most dairies are making profitable margins according to Trent Dado, independent dairy nutrition and management consultant with GPS Consulting.

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