Prison farm donates hay to fire-affected South West farmers

Rueben HaleCountryman

A prison farm has donated its spare hay to aid farmers with fire ravaged farm in the State’s South West.

Pardelup prison farm superintendent Brian Wilson said the farm’s management and staff decided they could afford to donate about 300 bales of silage (each around 700kg) to help South West farms facing ongoing livestock food shortages in the wake of one the State’s most devastating bushfires.

The fires, which broke out just two months after the Esperance fires destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of livestock and cropping properties in November last year, burned through about 30,000ha of prime southern farmlands and all but destroyed the historic town of Yarloop.

Significant pasture shortages continues to be a problem for many of the estimated 414 agricultural properties in the Yarloop, Harvey and Waroona.

Mr Wilson said the 6500ha, which supplies the meat produced on the farm to other prisons and also sells to the open market, runs about 3500 sheep and 500 cattle and is self-sufficient for livestock feed.

“All the silage is grown, mowed and wrapped by the prisoners and vocational support officers on Pardelup’s farm,” he said.

“The hay is normally for feeding the farm’s livestock but with good rains, we were able to put aside a few hundred bales as surplus if we needed it through the summer season.”

Transport arrangements for the silage are still being organised.

Meanwhile, Western Meat packers Group has paid a probable world record $30,000 for a round bale of hay to also help fire victims.

WMPG chief executive officer, Andrew Fuda, made the winning bid at a charity auction at Harvey.

Harvey born-and-raised, Mr Fuda personally knew many of the affected farmers.

Mr Fuda said the unique smoke-infused hay bale was destined to be fed to select steers at Paul O’Meehan’s Aus-Meat-accredited Borden feedlot in WA’s Great Southern, where he finishes steers, under contract to WMPG, at 120 days for the Japanese market.

“We believe the beef from those animals to be fed the world record-priced hay will be highly sought after by very discerning Japanese consumers who may even be able detect the smokey flavours infused from ancient WA jarrah, red gum and peppermint trees,” Mr Fuda said.

“The Japanese are passionate about high quality, grain-fed Australian beef and Japan takes about half of the grain fed beef produced in Australia.

“Western Meat Packers is not only happy to financially support the fire-affected South West farmers, some of whom have supplied cattle to us for many years, but we’re also delighted to be able to shine a light on flavour-enhanced WA export beef.”

The $30,000 bale was one of the last to be baled by Myalup farmers Graham and Mia Rose before they had to stop due to the raging bushfire.

All funds raised on the night went to local Lions and Rotary clubs, which will then distribute funds to fire affected farmers on a needs basis.

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