Australia-based livestock management software company AgriWebb launched the Helping Hands Project this week to help Australian farmers affected by fires regardless of whether they are members of its platform.
“While Australians have been shocked by the scale of destruction caused by the current bushfires, the true horror awaits many farmers on their return home,” AgriWebb co-founder John Fargher said in a press release announcing the program. “Buildings have been destroyed, crops lost, and livestock has perished. There are fears up to 100,000 livestock could be lost. The figures are almost too great to grasp.”
Reports of farmers suffering severe livestock losses and property damage due to the fires are heart-wrenching. One estimate recently projected an estimated total loss of roughly 1.7 million sheep and 450,000 cattle as a result of the fires, with as many as 100,000 sheep killed in the Kangaroo Island fires alone. The Australian government has authorized an aid package totaling roughly $1.4 billion while insurance claims related to fire damage have reached $50 million.
With the fires burning since September 2019 and damage continuing to mount, the total estimated financial impact of the fires has been projected at $3.5 billion to $7 billion.
Through the Helping Hands Project, farmers interested in helping and farmers seeking assistance can register at this link. Whether its additional labor on the farm, agistment (taking in livestock), feed, or machinery, the program is hoping to connect people on the ground.
“From there, our team will match up those who can help with those who need help,” Fargher explains. “I hope the wider farming community gets on board. Nobody understands the needs of farmers like farmers. They have the equipment, supplies, and know-how to make a difference, and quickly.”
The company is also lending a hand when it comes to financial assistance to repair the damage. It’s creating a measurement tool that farmers can use to calculate losses related to fence and infrastructure for insurance claims. One of its Kangaroo Island customers lost every fence line on his farm and called AgriWebb to discuss how it might be able to help, giving birth to the idea. Fargher believes this tool will help farmers save hours of having to calculate the losses that their farms have incurred
Launched in 2014, AgriWebb maintains a community of 3,500 farmers. As of January 8, it reported 167 users with farms under threat with fire affecting over 400,000 head of livestock. Over 200,000 hectares belonging to its members have already been burned and AgriWebb expects these figures to increase in the coming weeks.
If you aren’t a farmer but still want to help Australia’s producers, AgriWebb is encouraging donations to Burrumbottock Hay Runners.
“Before the fires even started, they were doing a great job delivering hay to get farmers through the drought,” says Fargher. “Now, their work is more important than ever.”
This is not AgriWebb’s first foray into humanitarian relief through technology. It previously launched a drought assistance program through its AgriWebb Community Facebook Group. AgriWebb co-founder and chairman Justin Webb even recently provided agistment for 220 livestock to assist a severely drought-affected customer in New South Wales at his family farm in Victoria.
The Australian software company has been a busy player in the livestock tech space, raising a $14 million Series A in Fall 2018 and acquiring UK livestock farm management software company FarmWizard from previous owner Wheatsheaf. The company’s platform provides record-keeping and management tools to help farmers manage tasks, complete inventory management, and create to-do lists. FarmWizard offers much of the same but with a greater emphasis on individual animal data.