A road train packed with hay bales and stock feed was a welcome sight to farmers in the Stradbroke area last week.
FARMERS in the Stradbroke area were given a helping hand last Wednesday, when a road train arrived to deliver bales of hay and stock feed to those affected by the drought.
The relief convoy was thanks to Queensland company Rural Aid’s ‘Buy a Bale’ initiative, which has resulted in a number of drought-affected areas across Australia receiving support.
Each farmer registered with Rural Aid was allocated a share of the $60,000 in feed, as well as a $500 voucher to use at a local independent supermarket, to ease the burden of grocery bills.
Community spirit was alive and well at the hay drop, as farmers helped each other unload square bales and bulk bags of feed off semi-trailers and onto the back of utilities and smaller trailers.
Rural Aid general manager Wayne Thomson said while the fight against drought was an ongoing battle, he was heartened by the response nationwide.
“We certainly hope that Rural Aid makes a bit of a difference to where farmers are at, and the hay drop gives them a bit of a reprieve to find a bit of money to find the food for their animals,” he said.
“Certainly the rest of Australia is still dealing with it; New South Wales is at 99 per cent drought – it’s massive – and to be honest, a lot of our attention is there.
“Queensland is at about 68 per cent, and South Australia is a bit of a basket case as well.
“When it does rain, it will rain and continue to rain, and one day the drought will be over, but until then, we’ve got to be here to support farmers, let them know that people care and know that we’re here to help until they’re back on their feet.
“The sad thing here [in Gippsland] of course is that there has been some rain so the place looks green, but it is just green dirt, and these farmers are still doing it very tough, so this is the first of many drops to come to support the farmers in the area that need the help and just need a bit of a breather.
“To have this sort of reprieve so people can maybe catch up on some other bills is very timely, so we’re glad to be here to help.”
Hawthorn Football Club also threw its support behind the program, donating $14,930 to the cause after auctioning off special edition ‘Buy a Bale’ jumpers, worn during the round 23 clash against Sydney last season.
Hawthorn leadership group member Isaac Smith was one of the spearheads of the campaign, maintaining the Hawks’ reputation of being ‘the family club’.
Hawthorn general manager of community and foundation Kerrie Brewer said the club was proud to partner with Rural Aid.
“A number of our players hail from country backgrounds, and were passionate about the club supporting this cause,” she said.
“Our fans getting involved in the auction means that we’ve been able to provide farmers in need with vital hay and feed for their animals.”
Rural Aid general manager Wayne Thomson, alongside local farmers Hamilton Gerrans, Brian Nicholls, Jenny Nicholls, Helen Milne and Damian Lee, in front of one of the road trains stocked with hay that came to farmers in the Stradbroke area.
Stradbroke farmer John Gerrand said the assistance was welcome.
“It’s going to be a little help because it’s been pretty tough – it’ll keep the sheep going for a little while and of course the grocery vouchers will be a big help too,” he said.
“It’s fantastic to have it here, because hay is hard to source right now.
“We’ve been hoping and hoping to get an autumn break or a late autumn break, and it would start raining, but, seeing as though it hasn’t, I’ve got my doubts it’s going to do it this year.
“You have to remain optimistic, or else you go nowhere.”
Mr Gerrand said the delivery would be enough to feed his 2000 ewes and 50 cattle for about a week, and was grateful for the feed.
“Most of them [the cows] are away on agistment, the sheep are here and with the rain we’ve had the sheep aren’t too bad,” he said.
“But we’ve got a lot of weed grass, and we haven’t had any follow-up rain on the rain we had a month ago.
“We’ve just had three frosts in a row that were pretty severe, meaning the food’s going to disappear pretty quickly.”
Anybody wishing to become a Rural Aid member or to donate can do so by phoning 1300 327 624.
The article’s credit is for the source: Gippsland Times