News

Hay delivered to drought-hit

By Alana Christensen

Victorian farmers are lending a hand to their northern counterparts, stepping up to cart hay to drought-ravaged farmers in NSW.

The donations come as farmers across NSW and Queensland battle one of the driest seasons on record, with 99percent of NSW declared drought-striken, forcing farmers to reduce stock numbers, cart in feed and, in some extreme instances, resort to feeding stock onions to get through.

Run through Need for Feed Disaster Relief, the July 27 to July 29 hay run saw a total of 621 round and large square bales transported from Harrow (80km south-west of Horsham) to the NSW region by a host of volunteers.

Wunghnu farmer Don Sofra, who helped drive one of the trucks to the upper Hunter Valley last weekend, said he was shocked at the state of the region.

‘‘You’ve probably got more feed on your kitchen table than these blokes have,’’ he said.

‘‘A lot of them said they haven’t had any significant rain since November... they were pretty grateful, there’s a few farmers that are a bit down and out at the moment.’’

Covering thousands of kilometres, the event saw everything from hay, trucks, diesel and time donated to give a leg-up to those doing it tough.

Delivering to a drop-off point in Denman (135km north-west of Newcastle), Invergordon farmers Leanne and Eddy Rovers said it was not just farmers, but the whole community who were appreciative.

‘‘It was unbelievable, it was a different world... I don’t know how they get out of bed in the morning,’’ she said.

‘‘We heard people have been very appreciative.

‘‘It was a really good trip up. People see you and they know what you’re doing and everyone toots at you. It was very humbling.’’

Ms Rovers said a total of 68 farmers had registered for fodder, while more than 80 families had received donated hampers with everything from groceries and dog food to personal items donated to lend a helping hand.

Driving more than 2500km across the weekend, Ms Rovers said more than 1000litres of diesel was used in just one truck, leading to a generous donation to help the cause.

Needing to return a truck to a trucking company in Melbourne full of diesel, she said it took just one call to ACT Petroleum owner Col Richardson, who offered to donated 500litres of diesel to finish the truck’s journey down the Hume.

With more hay runs planned in the future, including one at the end of this month, Ms Rovers and Mr Sofra said they hoped more people could throw their support behind NSW and Queensland farmers.

The worsening crisis has seen the NSW Government double its drought-relief support to $1billion as Federal Defence Minister Marise Payne offered up the assistance of the Australian Defence Force to assist with delivering fodder by truck or plane to farmers.

■Need for Feed Disaster Relief is seeking donations and volunteers for an upcoming hay run to NSW. For more information, visit: needforfeed.org