Benalla to receive Federal drought support funding

By Simon Ruppert

Benalla is just one of the drought-hit communities in north-east Victoria that will receive government support in their battle to control pest animals and weeds.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced that 33 local government areas – including Benalla and Wangaratta – would share in $10 million under Round-2 of the Communities Combating Pest and Weed Impacts During Drought Program.

“We are delivering on another election commitment to help farmers and landholders manage pests and weeds at a time when they are least able to do so,” Mr Littleproud said.

“This program aims to reduce the detrimental economic, social and environmental effects associated with pest animals and weeds during drought.”

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Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said managing pests and weeds was a significant cost for local farmers and even more of an impost for them in drought.

“Anything we can do now to help locals control scourges like deer and wild dogs along with some of our most detrimental weeds such as African boxthorn and serrated tussock is an investment in the future,” Senator McKenzie said.

“The capacity of our farmers to manage pests and weeds during drought is reduced because they are dealing with other challenges, such as feeding livestock and keeping their farm businesses running.

“Weeds compete with fodder and native plants.

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“Rabbits, deer and wild dogs wreak havoc, undermining drought management activities and recovery efforts, and can threaten both livestock and native animals.

“Benalla council will work closely with the Gecko CLaN Landcare Network Community to ensure the Working Together to Combat Weeds and Pests During Drought project undertakes a range of projects to identify and eradicate weeds and pests.

“In Wangaratta, the council has prepared a comprehensive list of best practice programs to control pest animals including wild dogs, deer, foxes and rabbits with exclusion fencing.

“Both councils will step up workshops etcetera to upskill landholders to help weed control on farms and adjoining roadsides.”

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Communities Combating Pest and Weed Impacts During Drought Program funding is used by local councils to support farmers and land managers reduce the impacts of pest animals and weeds on agriculture and the environment, and to stimulate local economies and employment.

Twenty-three projects will be funded under Round 2 of the Program.

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