HALF of the livestock lost in the Black Tuesday fires last year has been replaced, however there is still a “long way to go” before farmers completely rebuild their properties since the devastating bushfires over one year ago.
Lower Eyre Peninsula bushfire re-establishment director Helen Lamont said out of the 45,000 livestock lost in the fire, “about half had been replaced”.
“We’ve found since the fire, more farmers are going back into the mixed system than just cropping,” she said.
Mrs Lamont said sheep industry experts believe that number will exceed 45,000, as farmers return to a mixed farming system.
Mrs Lamont said livestock could provide better management of the land, where growers could take advantage of keeping stubble down by sheep grazing.
“By having livestock it decreases the amount of potential fuel load on a property,” she said.
Mrs Lamont said another reason why farmers were going back into livestock was due to promising wool prices after the slump in grain prices last year.
“The rebuilding is related to funding and the cash flow of farmers.”
While Mrs Lamont said it was virtually impossible to determine the exact length of fencing lost in the fire, a rough estimate could be made.
Mrs Lamont said the average farm had 150 kilometres of fencing, and with 120 properties affected by the bush fire, this would equate to at least 18,000 kilometres of fencing lost in the fire.
She said Black Tuesday gave farmers the opportunity to re-design paddock dimensions and mark out their territory.
Mrs Lamont said since Black Tuesday, there have been a small number of landholders who have decided to leave farming because of their age.
Younger farmers have taken over the land through family succession, and bring to the land a fresh approach and new ideas, she said.
“The enthusiasm of the next generation has been amazing.”
“But there’s still a huge sense of people feeling traumatised and there’s a never-ending list of things to do.”
“People in the bushfire-affected areas are certainly making huge progress, but it’s not to say it’s all over yet.”