Shepparton man does his bit for fire-ravaged communities

By Jamie Salter

Local farmers and farming organisations including Murray Dairy and VFF have come together to assist bushfire victims, gathering resources to reach those in need.

VFF president David Jochinke said the organisation had been working with local government, Agriculture Victoria and Lions clubs to get fodder to farmers impacted by bushfires.

“All farmers who have been impacted by these fires are strongly urged to seek help by contacting the VFF right away,” he said.

“The VFF is also able to put farmers in touch with other services to help support them with immediate needs and further recovery.”

Shepparton retired businessman and Rotary member Lloyd Ohlin purchased hay for Corryong farmers by calling local contacts given to him from a former real-estate agent.

“The first thing we realised is they need to feed cattle, so I started ringing people around because they needed hay for fodder,” Mr Ohlin said.

Mr Ohlin's friend, Melissa Whitehead from Cudgewa, had to evacuate and has since been gathering useful information for those in the region.

Ms Whitehead said truckloads of hay had been arriving in Corryong from the VFF and Burrumbuttock Hay Runners.

“It’s been really hard to give people in Corryong updates that we have hay because we can't contact them,” she said.

Mr Ohlin has also inquired about getting young cattle out of Corryong to prevent starvation and on fixing fences in the region.

“They've been doing their own fencing and we also have to clean up the stock lost in the fires,” Mr Ohlin said.

“The hardest thing is you can't do much until you can get up there and it's such an isolated area.”

Rotary District 9790 committee member Anne Reid reached out to a team of Benalla emergency fencing volunteers who will be sent to Corryong to fix fences this week.

“It’s about a district committee supporting our individual clubs and any other people that have been impacted in the clubs’ community,” she said.

“There are clubs down here impacted by 2009 fires that are more than willing to pay back.”

Murray Dairy received many calls from farmers offering assistance and has co-ordinated services so they are readily available when access to the region improves.

Those who wish to volunteer can phone Murray Dairy regional extension officer Lachlan Barnes on 0438 092 352 and anyone who wants to donate fodder can phone VFF on 1300 882 833.