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One-on-one bushfire recover support extended

Red meat producers impacted by bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020 can still access critical one- on-one support to help with their recovery as part of Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) Back to Business program, which has been extended to the end of the year.

The Back to Business program allows producers in fire-affected regions to access free one-on-one- sessions with a local farm business consultant to help put their business back on track.

So far, the program has been taken up by more than 110 producers across NSW, VIC, SA, WA & Tasmania – with 48 consultants being engaged to assist affected producers.

MLA Managing Director Jason Strong said this extension will provide an opportunity for more fire- affected producers to access valuable support as they recover and rebuild.

“The bushfires across the country had a devastating impact on many livestock producers, especially following the devastating drought experienced across much of the country,” Mr Strong said.

“We understand that each situation is likely to be different. This program is designed to give producers access to a consultant who will provide tailored support to assess their current situation, work through the key issues and prioritise the actions needed to be taken.

“We have had strong feedback from many producers about the value of the program to their business to date.”

Based on initial evaluation, 94 per cent of participants would recommend the program to other producers affected by bush fire – while producers have rated their increased confidence to make change on the farm as a 9 out of 10.

Araluen cattle producer Deb Gray – who’s property was ravaged by bushfires, leaving over half of her land and fences damaged and causing livestock losses – has accessed the program and understands the value of these one-on-one sessions.

“We got through the drought thinking 2020 was already going to be a tight year financially, but then the fire hit and it just shattered us,” Ms Gray said.

“We came back after being evacuated and my last three paddocks of feed had been burnt to the ground. Our neighbours and RFS volunteers had been amazing in saving our house and what stock and pastures they could, but in that moment I didn’t know what to do.”

Ms Gray said after the fires they didn’t have a set plan of recovery, with the only goal being to reach May and sell their calves on the ground for cashflow.

“The sessions stepped out short, medium and long-term plans for her business, and helped it grow in strength,” Ms Gray said.

“It really helped me to get back on my feet and feel excited about farming again. If you’re eligible for this sort of thing, give it a crack. Personally, the consultation sessions have been so valuable for us that we’ve actually renewed the consultant on a new twelve-month contract.

“Having a consultant come in with an unbiased view to look at our business has seen its potential grow enormously, and it really was a godsend when we needed it most.”

MLA’s Back to Business program has been extended until the end of 2020 – with signups for the program open until the 30 September 2020, or until allocation exhausted.

For more information visit https://www.mla.com.au/news-and-events/industry-news/free-fire- recovery-advice/ or email backtobusiness@mla.com.au.

To hear more about Deb Gray’s story and experience with the Back to Business program, listen to the most recent episode of MLA’s Feedback podcast https://www.mla.com.au/news-and- events/feedback-podcast/

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