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Fountaindale Farms sits alongside the Bellingen River near the small town of Raleigh, just south of Coffs Harbour. It’s a pasture dairy farm, milking approximately 340 jerseys in a 48-stand rotary. Owned and operated by Brad and Ellie Winzer since 2019, with the support of their family, Fountaindale Farms aims to supply premium milk and has a strong focus on animal health and quality pastures.
As is the case with many producers in the Mid North Coast region, Fountaindale Farms has suffered the effects of relentless wet weather events and flooding over recent years.
In March 2021, after an unseasonably wet Summer, the farm was hit hard after the Bellingen River peaked, with flood waters damaging and destroying pastures and fodder and subsequently causing a decline in milk production.
Once the water receded and the damage could be surveyed, Brad and Ellie were determined to get Fountaindale Farms back operating at full production and applied to the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) for disaster recovery assistance.
In April 2021, they were approved for a $75,000 Special Disaster Grant to cover the cost of seed to re-sow flood damaged paddocks and purchase fodder to sustain their herd. They were also able to access a $15,000 Natural Disaster Transport Subsidy to contribute to the cost of transporting fodder from drier parts of the state to the farm in Raleigh.
Later that year, the Supply Chain Support Grant became available to flood affected primary producers in targeted industries – of which dairy was one. Brad and Ellie were approved for a $100,000 grant that would allow them to engage earthwork contractors to repair over 1.4kms of damaged laneways and replace culverts to handle higher water flow.
“The Supply Chain Support Grant was fantastic and without this we would not have had the ability to upgrade our laneways for our dairy herd,” said Brad.
The benefits of this grant were two-fold, with significant improvements made to infrastructure on Fountaindale Farms, completed by local contractors and trades people, in turn supporting the Raleigh community.
Despite the misfortunes of 2021 and Brad and Ellie’s best efforts to make improvements to Fountaindale Farms, they were faced with a consecutive wet summer with the Bellingen River once again flooding in the February of 2022.
Once again, there was significant damage to fences, laneways and tracks, re-sown pastures were destroyed, limited fodder reserves were lost and milk production declined.
“This year has been relentless and has made it awfully hard, putting us months and months behind,” said Brad.
“We were fortunate enough to have most lanes completed before the 2022 floods and without doing this we would have struggled moving the herd around the farm.”
Brad and Ellie have been approved for an additional $75,000 Special Disaster Grant and a $15,000 Natural Disaster Transport Subsidy, which will help them to get back on their feet. The grant and subsidy will contribute to the cost of purchasing and transporting fodder for their herd, repairing fences and laneways and re-sowing pastures.
“The assistance we received from the RAA has been fantastic and has helped supply fodder to my livestock for the last few months but there’s still a long way to go until we have fully recovered and we’re back in full production,” said Brad.
Visit the Storm and Flood Programs webpage to learn more about recovery programs available via the RAA.