Grants total $1.3m for drought projects

Farmers share in Coles' drought grants

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FAMILY: Melissa and father Grant Harvey (centre) flanked by Josh and his father Ley Harvey, Strathdownie, will be able to turn off more grass-fed cattle with new irrigation.

FAMILY: Melissa and father Grant Harvey (centre) flanked by Josh and his father Ley Harvey, Strathdownie, will be able to turn off more grass-fed cattle with new irrigation.

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Two on-farm drought projects will share in funding put up by Coles.

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Farms at Strathdownie and Bairnsdale will be among businesses that share in funds to enable them to better combat drought.

Four farmers and food producers across Victoria will access $1.3 million from the Coles Nurture Fund for works including new fodder storage and water saving initiatives.

Projects range from building dams, storage sheds and silos to introducing sustainable and environmentally friendly methods of produce cold storage.

The Caithness family from Bairnsdale, the Cameron family from Corpach Holdings, Henty, the Damianopoulos family, Shepparton, and the Harvey family, Strathdownie, were among the recipients of the latest round of funding.

At Bairnsdale, grass-fed beef farmers Trevor and Carryn Caithness will use a $160,000 grant to build a 1200 tonne capacity concrete silage bunker, as well as two steel-framed sheds with the capacity to store 800 tonnes of hay or cereal straw.

Mr Caithness said his farm had been severely affected by drought, but the Coles grant would make a significant difference to his business in the future and mean he could produce more fodder in the good years to store it for the difficult years.

"By putting this infrastructure in place, it's giving us the confidence to move our business to the next level of its potential," Mr Caithness said.

"We'll be able to run our business with a greater degree of certainty and assurance that we will have feed stuffs in front of us no matter what the seasonal conditions are like."

The Harvey family from Strathdownie expect to cut irrigation water use with works to include replacing an inefficient 65 hectare pivot with two towable, 30ha pivots.

The changes would help the family business to supply grass-fed cattle all year round.

Philip and Con Damianopoulos, Shepparton, will be among the first pear growers in Australia to purchase equipment which will regulate the humidity of fruit and limit water use.

Masalki will use a $400,000 grant to introduce ground-breaking Dynamic Controlled Atmosphere cool room technology to preserve their apples and pears at the highest quality, while removing the need for high volume of plastic and water usage during the storing process.

The innovative technology would also enhance apple and pear size and eating quality. Currently, size and quality could be impacted due to dehydration that removes water from the fruit, leading to a shorter shelf life and a reduction in visual appearance and taste.

Philip Damianopoulos said that as a result of the Coles Nurture Fund grant, Masalki would be better positioned to provide customers with top quality produce and greater availability throughout the year.

"Consumers now expect the quality of their fruit to be 100 per cent perfect, 100 per cent of the time," he said.

"They expect it to taste amazing and look good and they want this all year-round. This new technology will remove the impact of dehydration and ensure that the fruit comes out just as nice as the day we picked it," he said.

Other businesses to receive support included Corpach Holdings, Henty, who will purchase and construct facilities to store fodder grown on the property and be better prepared for drought.

In total, 16 farmers and food producers across Australia shared in $5 million from the Coles Nurture Fund to help protect their businesses against drought in the long-term.

Coles Chief Operating Officer Greg Davis said the $5 million commitment for drought-related projects brought the total amount provided by the Coles Nurture Fund to nearly $20 million since it was established in April 2015.

"We know the drought has been devastating for so many farmers across Australia and we've tried to help where we can with short-term relief," he said.

"With support from the Coles Nurture Fund, we want to enable farmers to embark on projects which will help them in the long-term so they can drought-proof their businesses for the future."

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