Record Stocking Season Bolsters Local Fish Populations

The NSW Government’s Narrandera Fisheries Centre has played a vital role in freshwater fish breeding and stocking across the State.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said more than 5.3 million fish have been released in NSW in 2021-22, including a record 1.26 million Murray cod.

“The Murray cod fingerlings are part of the State’s largest-ever breeding program, aimed at sustaining populations in NSW lakes and rivers following years of drought,” Ms Cooke said.

“In addition to Murray cod, there are also golden perch, silver perch and endangered trout cod bred at the Centre and stocked throughout NSW.”

The Narrandera hatchery is currently undergoing a major upgrade to increase production capacity for native sportfish and threatened species.

The upgrade, which includes a new hatchery building fitted with state-of-the-art fish breeding technology, is part of a $6 million grant from the NSW Government.

The NSW Government is committed to breeding millions of native fish each year to keep our lakes and rivers well stocked.

Local and visiting recreational fishers will also benefit from hundreds of thousands of native sportfish stocked into local waterways.

Last season, 125,000 Murray cod were released into Wyangala Dam as well as 10,652 Golden perch and 2,955 Murray cod released into local waterways by the Jugiong and Narrandera Fishing Clubs, as part of the Dollar-for-Dollar program, supported by the Recreational Fishing Trusts.

These ongoing stocking events not only maintain and enhance recreational fisheries, but also benefit our local communities through tourism and economic opportunities.

The 2022-23 season has already commenced with broodstock collection and stocking already underway and this year’s season is expected to be one of the biggest yet.

For more information about fish stocking in NSW, visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

Varroa Mite Compensation for Beekeepers

An $18 million compensation package has been developed for registered beekeepers affected by the varroa mite outbreak, under an agreement reached by the Commonwealth and State governments and industry.

The National Management Group (NMG) for Emergency Plant Pests has also endorsed a National Response Plan to eradicate Varroa Destructor from NSW.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke welcomed the support and encouraged local beekeepers to keep doing their part.

“Agreement to provide reimbursement costs to residents who have bees for commercial use and recreation will ensure people will continue to come forward,” Ms Cooke said.

“We all have a common goal to protect the sector locally and at a state and national level, and it’s good to know beekeepers won’t be out of pocket.”

Ms Cooke the agreement will see registered commercial beekeepers reimbursed for all equipment, hives and bees that are destroyed in the eradication process, as well as the costs of honey.

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said eradication is the primary goal, and the state’s strong initial response and contact tracing work have made this possible.

“We still have extensive surveillance operations in place to find and destroy any further cases of this infestation,” Mr Saunders said.

“I want to thank the entire beekeeping community for their commitment and vigilance during this time.”   

The National Management Group also endorsed compensation for licensed recreational beekeepers in recognition of their critical role in the response to this incursion.

The NSW Government is putting on an additional 26 compliance and surveillance officers to manage risk to facilitate key pollination events and ensure business continuity.

Bali Travellers Encouraged to be Wary of Bringing Back FMB

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has called for travellers coming back from overseas to play their part in keeping the highly contagious Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) out of Australia.

Ms Cooke said FMD has never been closer to Australia – with the disease now spreading through Bali and other parts of Indonesia – and it’s critical for everyone to play their part in protecting our biosecurity.

“With flights to Bali now almost back at pre-pandemic levels, it’s critical we get the messaging out there about the ramifications an incursion of FMD would have on our state’s primary industries sector,” Ms Cooke said.

“If you are returning from FMD infected parts of the world, the messaging is clear: do the right thing, declare where you’ve been, make sure clothes and shoes are clean and free from soil and manure and steer clear from anywhere there might be livestock for seven days upon your return.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the impact of an FMD outbreak in Australia would be disastrous for the livestock sector, the economy and regional communities.

“We have kept Australia FMD free for more than 130 years, but it is now on our doorstep and we all have a role to play to keep our industry safe,” Mr Toole said.

“Nobody wants to be the person who brings in a disease that would devastate our livestock industry, cost the economy $80 billion, and shatter regional communities for years to come.

“The message is simple: if you have friends or family holidaying in Bali or other parts of Indonesia, hit them up on social media or send them a text and make sure they understand the risks and do the right thing when they come home.”

Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said the NSW Government has been working hard to bolster biosecurity to keep the agricultural sector safe, with record investment to drive active surveillance, rapid diagnostics and effective traceability systems to monitor, track and respond to threats. 

“Biosecurity has been my top priority since becoming Agriculture Minister,” Mr Saunders said.

“An incursion of Foot and Mouth Disease would have severe consequences for Australia’s animal health and trade. Significant economic losses would be felt, with restrictions being placed on both domestic and international markets for live animals, meat and animal products. 

“An uncontrolled outbreak could lead to the immediate closure of our meat export markets, and control costs have been estimated at more than $80 billion.”

Mr Saunders said while Australia has an internationally recognised capability to deal quickly and effectively with emergency animal disease outbreaks – including the large outbreak of equine influenza in 2007 and the outbreaks of avian influenza in 2012 and 2013 – primary producers must know what to be on the lookout for when it comes to protecting their livestock.

“We’re encouraging primary producers to engage in detailed contingency planning, to be overly cautious with people who come into contact with their livestock and monitor closely for signs of FMD which include blisters in and around the mouth area, drooling and limping,” he said.

“I have requested the Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services ramp up their work with farmers to recognise the signs of Foot and Mouth Disease in their stock.

“If livestock exhibit any unusual signs consistent with FMD, they must be reported immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.”

FMD affects all cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, sheep, goats, deer and pigs. It can be carried by live animals as well as in residual soil left on shoes, clothing and equipment.

For more information on Foot and Mouth Disease, visit: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/beef-cattle/health-and-disease/viral-diseases/fmd

Biosecurity Zones Expanded to Stop Varroa

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders has encouraged beekeepers to be aware of their responsibilities under expanded biosecurity zones which have come into force as part of the emergency biosecurity response to Varroa mite.

Minister Saunders said NSW Department of Primary Industries biosecurity officers had now traced a total of 7 infested premises, including the initial detection at sentinel hives near the Port of Newcastle.

“A new report of an infected property in the Bulahdelah area has been identified resulting in another 10km Eradication Zone being established,” Minister Saunders said.

“Critically, these new infested premises are directly linked to a previously identified property which shows the prompt and efficient response by the NSW DPI is working well.”

Minister Saunders said DPI had put significant measures in place to arrest the spread of the threat and was being assisted in the field by Local Land Services (LLS) and NSW Police

“Since Varroa Mite was first identified at the Port of Newcastle last week, NSW DPI has been working with apiary industry bodies and stakeholders to ensure beekeepers are informed and empowered to be part of this critical response,” he said.

“Australia is the only major honey producing country free from varroa mite, the most serious pest of honeybees worldwide. It’s critical we get on top of this incursion fast and the assistance of beekeepers and the community will be critical to that success.”

Under orders issued by NSW DPI no bee hives can currently be moved within NSW, and no honey or honeycomb can be harvested.

Beekeepers within the 10, 25 and 50 km biosecurity zones around infested properties must also notify NSW DPI of the location of all bees by calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881, or visiting www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa

Eradication plans include treatment of beehives within a 10 km emergency zone around infested sites and inspection of managed and feral honeybee colonies within a 25 km surveillance zone.

Beekeepers work side-by-side with government as part of Australia’s early warning system to detect exotic honeybee pests, the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program, which includes surveillance hives and catch boxes at strategic locations around our ports and airports.

More information is available from NSW DPI: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders has encouraged beekeepers to be aware of their responsibilities under expanded biosecurity zones which have come into force as part of the emergency biosecurity response to Varroa mite.

Minister Saunders said NSW Department of Primary Industries biosecurity officers had now traced a total of 7 infested premises, including the initial detection at sentinel hives near the Port of Newcastle.

“A new report of an infected property in the Bulahdelah area has been identified resulting in another 10km Eradication Zone being established,” Minister Saunders said.

“Critically, these new infested premises are directly linked to a previously identified property which shows the prompt and efficient response by the NSW DPI is working well.”

Minister Saunders said DPI had put significant measures in place to arrest the spread of the threat and was being assisted in the field by Local Land Services (LLS) and NSW Police

“Since Varroa Mite was first identified at the Port of Newcastle last week, NSW DPI has been working with apiary industry bodies and stakeholders to ensure beekeepers are informed and empowered to be part of this critical response,” he said.

“Australia is the only major honey producing country free from varroa mite, the most serious pest of honeybees worldwide. It’s critical we get on top of this incursion fast and the assistance of beekeepers and the community will be critical to that success.”

Under orders issued by NSW DPI no bee hives can currently be moved within NSW, and no honey or honeycomb can be harvested.

Beekeepers within the 10, 25 and 50 km biosecurity zones around infested properties must also notify NSW DPI of the location of all bees by calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881, or visiting www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa

Eradication plans include treatment of beehives within a 10 km emergency zone around infested sites and inspection of managed and feral honeybee colonies within a 25 km surveillance zone.

Beekeepers work side-by-side with government as part of Australia’s early warning system to detect exotic honeybee pests, the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program, which includes surveillance hives and catch boxes at strategic locations around our ports and airports.

More information is available from NSW DPI: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa

Farm Forestry Producers to Benefit from $28 Million Funding Boost

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has welcomed the NSW Government’s $28 million investment to bolster support for the region’s Farm Forestry producers.  

The $28 million package will provide a funding boost to Local Land Services’ Farm Forestry Program to enhance on-ground education, training and support local producers to drive innovation and promote best practice.  

Ms Cooke said Farm Forestry plays a key role in the local economy and this investment demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to the sector.  

“This is a milestone investment for our state’s farm forestry sector, and local producers will benefit greatly,” Ms Cooke said.   

“Producers will have greater access to the expert advice they need to improve the management of their forests, which will help them to sustainably grow their operations.” 

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the funding boost follows the introduction of new Farm Forestry Codes of Practice earlier this year and provides increased support to farmers through enhanced education and training. 

“This investment will fund a suite of programs and partnerships to facilitate and expand the development of the State’s sustainable Farm Forestry industry,” Mr Toole said. 

“This is the largest investment in Farm Forestry in more than a decade, and it reflects the increasingly important role it will play in supporting our sustainable timber industry.” 

Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said the package will provide farmers with practical advice and support services to ensure forestry becomes a central part of on-farm planning. 

“Farmers manage their forests for multiple values, by producing the goods and environmental services we all rely on,” Mr Saunders said.  

“This investment will ensure farmers have the information they need to improve productivity and environmental outcomes on our Farm Forests for themselves and the whole community.”  

Learn more about Farm Forestry at www.lls.nsw.gov.au/help-and-advice/private-native-forestry

Young, Bribbaree and Murrumburrah Harden Shows Set to Shine

Young Show, Bribbarree Show and Murrumburrah Harden Show are all set to shine brighter than ever this year thanks to the NSW Government’s Country Shows Support Package. This package has already delivered funds to many of the shows held across the Cootamundra electorate, supporting shows that have had several challenging years of being impacted by drought, flood, bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said the ongoing support from the Country Shows Support Package has now seen Young Pastoral and Agricultural Association successful in receiving $29,457.15, Bribbaree Show Society receiving $14,970.93 and Murrumburrah Harden Show Society receiving $15,000 to support the delivery of their 2022 shows.

“These grants will provide certainty to show organisers to lock in suppliers, hire equipment and purchase goods, which is also great news for local businesses,” Ms Cooke said.

“Our local shows are a fantastic tradition and this grant will ensure they continue to delight people and be a part of our history for many generations to come.”

“I encourage everyone to get behind their local show and see all the amazing things they have to offer,”

“From best grown flowers, to wood chopping, petting zoos and rides for children of all sizes, there is something for everyone at our country and agricultural shows and it is something the whole family can enjoy together.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the $5 million Country Shows Support Package provides a funding opportunity for the 190 agricultural shows that are planned across NSW in 2022.

“It’s been a tough few years for country shows, with drought, bushfires, storms, floods and COVID-19 disrupting plans, but as they say, the show must go on and these grants are helping make that happen,” Mr Toole said.

“Country shows are the heartbeat of so many rural communities – they not only celebrate the best of the best in the community but allow visitors to experience the tastes, sights and sounds of the bush.”

The $5 million Country Shows Support Package is part of the NSW Government’s $200 million Regional Recovery Package, which will deliver long term support and certainty for the regions as the state reopens.

Women in Agriculture – Lets Talk Safety

The NSW Government’s Women in Agriculture Lunch and Learn series in Temora on June 8 will shine a light on safety for farming families.

In partnership with Essential Energy, the 20 free events kick off state-wide from 1 June until 15 July, focusing on safety while working in rural settings.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said The Lunch and Learn series is an opportunity to hold real discussions around the prevention of injury and death in the agricultural sector.

“Mothers, wives and daughters are at the heart of a lot of farms and agri-businesses, and their influence is key to seeing change for the better and improving safety on the farm.” Ms Cooke said

“Women play a central role in farm life, they often make business decisions and keep the farm running while managing family life. Inviting them to discuss ways to prevent injury and death will be critical in shifting attitudes and creating safer workplace practices on the farm.”

Minister for Fair Trading Eleni Petinos said the series will cover issues including working near electricity, emergency preparedness and response, safety around farm vehicles, and at-risk workers and contractors.

“Tragically, farming accounts for one in every five worker deaths. That’s why these events are so important for the women at the centre of farming families – to provide essential safety resources and encourage safe farming practices,” Ms Petinos said.

“After the success of last year’s inaugural sessions, we have almost doubled the number of events this year to expand our reach to more women across regional towns.”

The interactive event will provide participants with the opportunity to speak with presenters connected to the sector and network with like-minded women in agriculture.

Attendees may be eligible to apply for the following rebate programs:

The event will run for two and a half hours with a light lunch to be provided.

To attend the SafeWork NSW Women in Agriculture Lunch and Learn events register here or contact 13 10 50.

Rural Financial Counselling Service Extended

The NSW Government has announced an additional $10 million over the next three years to continue the NSW Rural Financial Counselling Service across the state.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke has welcomed the commitment, saying it will allow the Rural Financial Counselling Service to continue providing free, independent financial planning and support until at least 2025.

“The program provides a crucial service to the region, helping producers suffering financial hardship to manage their businesses after two years of severe weather events,” Ms Cooke said.

“With a number of rural financial counsellors dedicated to our smaller communities, I encourage those who may be experiencing financial hardship to make the most of this free service.”

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Dugald Saunders said the Rural Financial Counselling Service has assisted farmers, fishers, forestry growers and harvesters experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship for 30 years.

“There are 50 Rural Financial Counsellors working in our regional communities across the state, who are undertaking immediate and long-term financial planning, succession planning, farm debt mediation and guiding people who need to access to government assistance,” Mr Saunders said.

“Ensuring this vital service will be readily available at a local level is essential to building business support networks and helps producers strengthen their knowledge and operations.” For more information, including the contact details for a Rural Financial Counsellor nearest to you, please phone 1800 319 458 or visit www.rfcsnsw.com.au

Aboriginal Ranger Program to Support Culture, Country and Connection

The NSW Government has launched a new Aboriginal Ranger Program designed to enhance Aboriginal peoples’ connection to country and provide meaningful career pathways.

The $5.95 million initiative will create employment and training opportunities for communities across the state, while also increasing the inclusion of traditional land management practices in on-ground projects.

The Rangers will work on key parts of the Local Land Services operation, including assisting landholders with livestock health, pests and weeds, biosecurity matters, native vegetation, and managing travelling stock routes.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the program is being delivered across multiple Local Land Services regions including the Riverina and Central West areas which encompass a large portion of the Cootamundra electorate.

“22 new Aboriginal staff will be recruited, including 16 trainee rangers based in local towns, and it’s so great we could be a part of it,” Ms Cooke said.

The program will provide Aboriginal people with culturally safe training, mentoring and support for their employment whilst also enabling them to remain local and connected to country.

“Culture and country is at the center of every Aboriginal person’s identity and this program is an amazing way to recognise that connection while also increasing workforce diversity in the region.”

Expressions of interest for the Aboriginal Ranger Program are now open. For more information, please visit: www.lls.nsw.gov.au/aboriginal-ranger

Support for the 2022 West Wyalong Show

The West Wyalong Show is gearing up for a huge two days of events in 2022, thanks to NSW Government support through the Country Shows Support Package.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said the Country Shows Support Package, which has already delivered $99,513 to country shows around the Cootamundra electorate has another recipient, with the West Wyalong Show Society Inc to receive $13,677 to support the delivery of the 2022 West Wyalong show.

“These grants will provide certainty to show organisers to lock in suppliers, hire equipment and purchase goods ahead of this year’s show in September, which is also great news for local businesses,” Ms Cooke said.

“Our local shows are a fantastic tradition and this grant will ensure they continue to delight people and be a part of our history for many generations to come.”

“I encourage everyone to get behind their local show and see all the amazing things they have to offer. From best-grown squash, to wood chopping, petting zoos and watching which dog takes out best in show, there is something for everyone to enjoy at our country and agricultural shows.”

Diane Redman, President of the West Wyalong Show Society Inc said that the commitment by the NSW Government to country shows after a tough couple of years is greatly appreciated by all members of the society.

“We are looking forward to bringing the show back in 2022 bigger and better than ever,” Mrs Redman added.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the $5 million Country Shows Support Package provides a funding opportunity for the 190 agricultural shows that are planned across NSW in 2022.

“It’s been a tough few years for country shows, with drought, bushfires, storms, floods and COVID-19 disrupting plans, but as they say, the show must go on and these grants are helping make that happen,” Mr Toole said.

“Country shows are the heartbeat of so many rural communities – they not only celebrate the best of the best in the community but allow visitors to experience the tastes, sights and sounds of the bush.”

The $5 million Country Shows Support Package is part of the NSW Government’s $200 million Regional Recovery Package, which will deliver long term support and certainty for the regions as the state reopens.

Applications are open until Friday, 29 April 2022, or when funding is exhausted. For further information, including program guidelines and eligibility criteria, go to: www.nsw.gov.au/CountryShows.