Frost wreaks havoc with south-west crops

Simon Ramsay
Simon Ramsay

Farmers across western Victoria are reeling from devastating frosts in early November that have completely wiped out some crops.

Member for Western Victoria, Simon Ramsay, told the Victorian Parliament this week the degree of damage could be unprecedented.

“I have spoken to farmers across the region and they are all telling me the same story, the damage is enormous and potentially unprecedented,” Mr Ramsay said.

He said Ararat farmer and Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) representative, Charlie de Fegely, had told him some farmers faced 100 per cent wipe-outs.

“For others the damage won’t be fully understood until harvest begins in mid-December. At that point – the toll will be known,” said Mr Ramsay.

“The financial impact could be losses of $400 million or more. It is a realistic and devastating figure.

“However, I fear the social impact could be as much an issue as the financial impact. These are real people whose lives have just been shaken to the core,” Mr Ramsay said.

He said reports indicated wheat and grape crops had been severely damaged right across the region.

“Canola crops appeared to be hit by an estimated 25 per cent and barley just shy of that,” Mr Ramsay said. 

“But anyone growing pulses – lentils, chickpeas and beans – will be rocked most,” he said. 

Brent Rogers, who farms at Nerrin Nerrin near Lake Bolac, said he expected the frost would cut the yield from his 81 hectares (200 acres) of faba beans by half.

A meeting backed by the VFF will be held at the Tatyoon Hall from 5.30pm on Thursday, November 16 to help farmers decide their options to dealing with frost-damaged crops.