Bushfire Roundtable on Agriculture

Bushfire Roundtable on Agriculture

This week, Australian Organic Ltd (AOL) was invited by the Minister’s office to participate and represent the organic sector at the Bushfire Roundtables on Agriculture.

Advisory Committee Members, affected operators, certification organisations contributed to the content delivered by Australian Organic CEO, Niki Ford, the Minister of Agriculture, Deputy PM Michael McCormack and other Industry Leaders present.

The session allowed each Industry Leader the opportunity to highlight how the recent and current bushfires have affected their sector, key risks, industry assistance and response and recovery requirements.

Australian Organic’s organic standard provides an additional layer to the acceptance of assistance, response and recovery. During the organic presentation AOL has called for additional resourcing for the Organic program to assist managing the outcomes needed to support those affected during this unprecedented event. AOL was today informed the Department will be following up this matter early next week.

The Minister’s office shared the below link, providing clear updates on affected land, stock numbers and further information.


More Roundtable discussion will continue over the coming months. Australian Organic will continue to update accordingly.

Up to $75,000 grants available for bushfire-affected producers

Up to $75,000 grants available for bushfire-affected producers

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced an initial $100 million in emergency bushire funding will be made available to farm, fish and forestry businesses in fire-affected regions following an agreement with relevant state governments.

Affected businesses will be able to apply for grants up to $75,000 to help rebuild, in addition to support provided by the recent $15 million funding for the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS).

The Prime Minister commented; 

“We will do whatever it takes to support those communities and businesses hit by these fires, and if we need to do more, we will.

“I need to stress this is an uncapped program so if demand for support goes above $100 million, money will continue to flow.

“As the scale of the damage becomes apparent, it is clear that our farm, our fish and forest businesses need support and along with communities who depend on them, we will help them rebuild and we will continue to back them.

“This funding will support primary producers to access essentials like fodder and water, while also help rebuild fencing or hire vital agricultural equipment like water pumps, irrigation systems, horticultural netting and generators.”

Senator Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Agriculture, said work has begun on helping communities and businesses rebuild after the fires.

“Rural and regional communities particularly across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have been hit hard by the bushfires and we will continue to work together to support all those Australians whose livelihoods have been devastated by these fires,” Minister McKenzie commented.

“This funding could help pay for tradespeople to conduct farm safety inspections, for veterinary fees, waste disposal and to repair any damaged property.

“Our farmers, fishers and foresters have been hit extremely hard by these terrible fires. I’ve seen firsthand, farmers who have left their properties to fight fires.

“Our farmers are resilient and very generous putting themselves on the line for their friends and neighbours.

“These grants of up to $75,000 will help get them the equipment they need to start rebuilding.

“We’re working closely with farming groups to develop specific industry recovery plans.”

The same off-farm income rules for Farm Household Allowance will apply to these grants, meaning farmers that are not eligible for Category C payments due to off-farm income rules will still be eligible for the up to $75,000 grants.

Funding will be available through the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program and assistance will be provided through a joint Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement between states and territories and the Commonwealth Government.

Further details to be announced.

For more information on the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program please contact 1800 900 090.

More Rural Financial Counsellors to support bushfire recovery

More Rural Financial Counsellors to support bushfire recovery

The Australian Government has announced an additional $15 million in funding to support the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) on the path to recovery.

Senator Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Agriculture has said the additional measures over the next two years will support bushfire-affected primary producers on the path to recovery, including 60 additional rural financial counsellors and support workers.

“We’ve seen a massive scale of destruction—from vineyards, orchards and forestry plantations to livestock herds and abalone farms—so we’re boosting the RFCS to help our farmers through the difficult financial decisions they may be facing.

“Existing rural financial counsellors are already on the ground working with communities and assessing needs.
“We expect demand for these services to grow as the situation unfolds and people return to their properties to evaluate the damage.

“We’re committed to getting the right support to the places it’s most needed. That’s why we are recruiting an additional 60 rural financial counsellors and support workers.

“Early assistance will be critical to help farmers apply for support payments, complete insurance claims and get in touch with the right people for broader services.

“It can be difficult to properly assess what it may take to recover. RFCS will also provide longer term financial counselling to help farmers better understand their financial position and make decisions in response to bushfires and ongoing drought conditions.

“Rural financial counsellors already play a vital role in our regional areas, particularly given the ongoing drought. For over 35 years, the RFCS has provided free financial counselling to farmers, foresters, fishers and related small businesses in times of need. Currently, there are approximately 120 counsellors located within key agricultural communities across Australia.

“Not only are RFCS staff well-qualified to do this work, but as part of these communities they have also seen the impact of bushfires up close.

“When you are ready, if you need help in assessing the financial position of your farm business, understanding what support might be available, and developing a plan to move forward, get in contact with your nearest RFCS office by calling 1800 686 175.”

See the RFCS fire factsheet for more information.

Australian Organic – Industry Fire Crisis Update

Australian Organic – Industry Fire Crisis Update

Australian Organic Industry – Fire Crisis Update

What Certified Operators need to know

As Australia comes to grips with the worst bushfire season in living memory, our thoughts are with those affected.

While it is unclear how many certified organic operators have been affected, we would like to take the opportunity to remind operators of some of the requirements for certification which may become relevant for these operators for the first time, and to alert you to some of the allowances and derogations that are available in the National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce 3.7 (NS), and the Australian Certified Organic Standard 2019 (ACOS), to ease the burden of certification in emergency situations such as these.

Please ensure you contact your certification body should you have questions relating to your certification requirements.

See link to the full Australian Organic Industry Fire Crisis Update below.

More Rural Financial Counsellors to support bushfire recovery

Minister McKenzie urges regional communities to prioritise personal safety amid worsening bushfire crisis

In a recent media release from the Department of Agriculture, Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie is urging those in regional communities to prioritise personal safety as the bushfire crisis worsens and the loss of livestock becomes a reality.

Minister McKenzie commented; “The devastating loss of life to date underscores a critical need for cooperation and support in regional and urban communities alike.”

“Property damage is widespread and the task of rebuilding lives, communities and economies will be long-term.

“The outstanding work by first responders and volunteers, alongside state and federal agencies, is the first step in what will be a long path to recovery.

“I have been in contact with state Agriculture Ministers and state farming organisations to ensure we continue to work together to meet the needs of our ag sector during this emergency phase.

“That goes right through to the recovery phase which is likely to be long and hard as people, livestock and properties continue to be affected by smoke, charred surrounds and lack of feed.

“The Australian Government will stand by these communities over the long haul. We will ensure that our activities are coordinated through the National Crisis Coordination Centre, so that all states are supported in the right way at the right time.

“While the primary concern is for the well-being of people, there is also growing concern for the welfare of livestock in affected areas.

“The NSW Rural Fire Service has today asked farmers to assess the possibility of relocating livestock from affected areas. Agriculture Victoria vets are on the ground in bushfire zones ready to help farmers assess livestock right now and that will continue.

“There have been reports of stock losses in the thousands across South Australia and this figure is growing due to smoke and heat following the fires in South Australia.

“Animal welfare is the top priority under these conditions, as is disposing of dead stock and containing spread of disease as we move into the recovery phase.

“While the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS)—which requires that movement of stock be tracked — still applies, getting animals to safety needs to be the focus.

“NLIS reporting can be undertaken when the animals are safely relocated. If in any doubt, contact the local department of primary industries in your state. Regardless, relocating stock during a bushfire is an enormous logistical challenge that in many cases may simply not be possible.

“That’s driving a second challenge: feeding flocks and herds in country that is often isolated from supply chains. This challenge, along with re-establishing infrastructure like fencing and safe water supplies, is likely to take months rather than weeks.

“Fodder requests and donations are managed at the state level and responsible organisations differ between jurisdictions—I encourage farmers to access these services as early as possible and thank those who have shown such generosity, with donations of fodder already on the ground across fire zones.

“My department has also offered to make veterinarians available to all states and territories to assist with stock assessments on individual farms.

“Unfortunately we know some stock has already perished and to curtail any suffering for injured stock, we expect some farmers will need to make the difficult decision to euthanize.

“I urge farmers to photograph injured and dead stock to help with insurance claims.

“In most cases state government officials have not yet been able to get onto the fire grounds to assess livestock—however several jurisdictions have indicated that they will be seeking assistance.

“We stand ready to provide that assistance as soon as it’s required.

“At the national level, we recognise that farming businesses have far more pressing priorities than levy payments.

“I have asked my department to cease any debt recovery action for levies, fees and charges for the moment in affected areas. If you have an invoice or levy notice put it aside and focus on your immediate concerns.

“And, of course, the Rural Financial Counselling Service in each state will continue playing a vital role assisting farmers during the recovery phase.

“Our farmers and their communities are resilient, but they can’t do this alone. Recovery will be an exercise in national cooperation and compassion.

“The Australian Government stands ready to assist.”

Media release from Minister McKenzie, Australian Government Department of Agriculture. View the full media release here.

Bushfire Emergencies: Agricultural Resources

Bushfire Emergencies: Agricultural Resources

Agricultural Resources

See below list of agricultural resources and contact information for those affected by the recent bushfire emergencies.

For the most current information and updates, please visit:

National Bushfire Recovery Agency


Latest Alerts


New South Wales

South Australia


Western Australia



South Australia

  • State recovery assistance services
  • Fodder requests and donations: Livestock SA, 0419 035 459 / 08 8297 2299
  • Stock loss and assessment: PIRSA, 1800 255 556
  • Mental health support:
    – Regional Access, 1300 032 186


Western Australia


Managing Animal Biosecurity

The Integrity Systems Company provides the following information and advice for fire-affected properties:
  • All livestock movements, especially after a natural disaster, pose a biosecurity threat. If possible, record all stock movements between PIC’s in the NLIS database and if circumstances allow aim to move livestock a property that is LPA accredited
  • During times of natural disaster, you may receive or need to procure fodder from unfamiliar suppliers.  There can be risks associated with unfamiliar fodder – such as chemical contamination, weed seed, restricted animal material, and poor quality or unsuitable feed for your class of livestock. Where possible, request a Commodity Vendor Declaration (CVD) for any purchased fodder and keep a record of all feed that has been bought in and the animals it was fed to
  • When humane destruction is necessary, appropriate methods must be used by people who have the experience, knowledge skills and tools – these are outlined in the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. Please check with your local and state authorities for advice on appropriate carcass disposal methods and any specific health risks in your area.
Further information on these points can be found in the National Disaster Response – Bushfires fact sheet: 
For producers need support with any of these actions, please contact the LPA Helpdesk via 1800 683 111 or lpa@mla.com.au

This information has been issued by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and FarmHub.