The recovery: help for farmers hit by the recent bushfires

IMMEDIATE help is at hand for farmers affected by the recent fires on the Monaro, in the form of 24.5 tonnes of donated fence posts delivered to the council depot last Monday.

The posts valued at around $40,000, have been donated by Australian Composite Technology (ACT), to farmers affected by the Yarrabin bushfire.

The story of these fence posts is one of generosity and community spirit in a time of need.

Monaro Freight transported the posts from Victoria, and has already donated time and services helping bushfire victims not only on the Monaro but further afield at Coonabarabran.

The posts are being distributed by volunteer organisation BlazeAid, currently rebuilding fences on six properties in the Kybeyan Valley and Numeralla.

A number of community groups are doing their bit, supporting BlazeAid volunteers including the Cooma and Nimmitabel Lions Clubs, Cooma Rotary Club, the Country Women's Association, Nimmitabel Community Group and a group of volunteers from Kybeyan Valley.

Cooma-Monaro Shire Council has allocated $5000 for groceries for local service clubs to provide evening meals for volunteers.

Nimmitabel locals Isabel Harrington and Margaret Weston raised $500 to help with breakfasts and lunches for the BlazeAid volunteers.

The Nimmitabel Show Society is providing BlazeAid with a home base at the Nimmitabel showground.

Local businesses, such as Cooma Rural and Alpine Steel, residents, farmers and transport companies are continuing to provide products and services at cost price and source and deliver much-needed feed for livestock, along with NSW Farmers and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

More help is available now that Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has approved a 'Category C' Natural Disaster Declaration, following the Yarrabin fire that burnt around 12,000 hectares of farmland on the Monaro.

The NSW Government has declared natural disasters in 71 local government areas following recent fires and extreme weather conditions across the state.

Member for Monaro John Barilaro said he was pleased the federal government has made $15,000 grants available to primary producers affected by the Yarrabin fire.

"This fire destroyed close to 12,166 hectares, two homes were lost, in excess of 2,400 head of sheep perished and more than 250 kilometres of fencing (worth in the vicinity of $250,000) in addition to farm machinery, sheds and equipment were destroyed," Mr Barilaro said.

"Primary producers affected by recent fires were clearly in need of federal Category C Natural Disaster grants and I'm pleased that the Commonwealth Government acted swiftly in this instance," Mr Barilaro said.

The donation by ACT, which has given a total of around $250,000 of plasmar posts to farms affected by fires in NSW, Tasmania and Victoria, will provide farmers with high quality fencing and remove one big worry off their shoulders.

ACT managing director Rose Smithers said every farmer knows, without fences, you don't have a farm.

"The sooner fences are fixed, the sooner farms can get up and running properly again and we all benefit from that," Ms Smithers said.

"Blaze Aid does an amazing job but they can't do their work without fencing material, and we were in a position to help.

"We hope farmers will get a morale boost from the plasmar posts which are fire and rot resistant and have been CSIRO tested for durability and proven to last for more than 50 years."

The unusual, environmentally friendly plastic posts are made of recycled plastic milk containers.

Ms Smithers said ACT welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate the quality and durability of the plastic posts in different locations throughout Australia.

"But most importantly, with this donation, we hope to remind people that the farmers affected by the bushfire still need our help."

Primary producers in the fire affected areas should contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 to see if they are eligible for the grant.

Information on disaster assistance in NSW can be found at www.mpes.nsw.gov.au

BlazeAid is asking for help to transport the plasmar posts, along with 1,360 railway sleepers donated by the NSW Department of Transport, from the Depot to those properties with burnt fences.

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