Hay destined for desperate King Island farmers is delayed in Victoria

Hay destined for desperate King Island farmers is delayed in Victoria

King Island farmers are desperately waiting for 500 tonnes of fodder stuck in Victoria, with a local council yet to allow it to be shipped from its port. 

The farmers are running out of feed, and as the weather gets colder, they say their animals need to be fed urgently.

“The rain keeps avoiding the island for some terrible reason. There’s a very, very high need for feed,” Ian Sauer from TasFarmers said.

The drought-affected King Island, Tasmania in March 2024.(ABC News: Monte Bovill)

He said he was frustrated that donated feed was ready to go but was sitting in Swan Hill in Victoria waiting for approval for it to be freighted by ship from the Port of Apollo Bay in the Otway Shire.

Council criticised 

Mr Sauer was critical of the Colac Otway Council Shire for holding it up.

“In my view, this is some of the most atrocious corporate behaviour that I’ve seen,” he said.

“TasFarmers will not sit back and have its farmers trampled over by an organisation that doesn’t want to play good corporate behaviour and help those farmers,” Mr Sauer said.

TasFarmers president Ian Sauer is calling out what he says is “atrocious corporate behaviour” by a Victorian council.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

Biosecurity checked

The Lions Club of Australia’s national fodder collection project, Need for Feed, has collected the fodder.

It has been checked over for weeds and given the green light by Biosecurity Tasmania, an extra requirement when shipping to Tasmania.

However, the local council is not keen on having it shipped out of its port at Apollo Bay.

Need for Feed’s Graham Cockerell is frustrated at the hold-up of feed destined for King Island in Tasmania.(Supplied: Graham Cockerell)

Need for Feed project chairman Graham Cockerell said he was imploring the council to be “good neighbours” as an alternative port would also cost another $70,000.

“The closest port is Apollo Bay, which is about 150 kilometres or five and a half, six hours in a truck from the alternative Port Welshpool.

“That is 150 kilometres further by road, but it’s also more than 150 kilometres further by sea, which would be a significant cost to our charity,” Mr Cockerell said.

Mr Cockerell said he had been in touch with the Colac Otway Council but was waiting for a reply,

“And so are the desperate King Island farmers,” he said

“We’ve had our fair share of droughts, fires, and floods in New South Wales and even right through into Queensland.

“King Island farmers have been able to help us out, and now it’s time to be a good neighbour,” Mr Cockerell said.

Risk to port infrastructure  

Colac Otway Shire Council said while it supported a bid to find transport options to deliver much-needed food for livestock to the farmers of King Island, the scale of the proposed operation could not be supported.

“The Port of Apollo Bay is a local port and not a commercial trading port, and the council has received an independent engineering report that has assessed that freight movements of this scale present risks to the port’s infrastructure and operations,” Anne Howard, Council CEO, said. 

The council said the hay could be shipped from a number of ports across Victoria, including Portland, Geelong and Welshpool.

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