Over 12,000 farmers registered with Rural Aid will receive pre-paid gift cards, valued at $4.25 million, for Christmas and into January thanks to the generosity of everyday Australians and Rural Aid’s corporate donors.
Rural Aid National Business Development Manager Wayne Thomson said over 12,000 farmers are now registered with Rural Aid for assistance. “Since mid-November, we have been sending out the gift cards and they will go a long way to help make life a little easier for many of our farmers and their families over the Christmas period,” Wayne Thomson said.
“Many of the gift cards will be spent in the farmers’ local communities which will also support local businesses and local economies. It’s also a wonderful way of saying to our farmers and their communities that you are not forgotten, that we are here to support you.”
Wayne Thomson said that Glencore’s coal business in partnership with Rural Aid has provided 5800 farming families in New South Wales and Queensland affected by drought with a $300 gift card and a gift pack each for Christmas this year. “Glencore made the $1.7 million donation on behalf of their 5800 staff employed in Glencore’s coal business to farmers in Glencore’s coal business regions,” Wayne Thomson said.
“It’s also thanks to the generosity of everyday Aussies that Rural Aid has sent $500 gift cards to 2000 farmers and a further $300 gift cards to 3500 farmers. In October, the Allora community held a rockabilly high tea to raise funds for the local farmers. This small community, situated between Toowoomba and Warwick in Queensland, also has major water restrictions, but raised $6000 that went towards pre-paid gift cards valued at $300 or $500 to 43 farmers.
“Added to this, half a million dollars will also be spent immediately on $500 gift cards to 1000 farmers from donations received at the recent Hay Mate: A Bush Christmas Appeal. Farmers will start receiving these cards from mid-January 2020.”
Wayne Thomson explained that the number of farmers registering for assistance with Rural Aid in November was the highest monthly total on record at over 1100 farmers.
“However, December has already seen that record broken with 1130 farmers registering for support as at 18 December. In December 2018 we had 66 farmers register for assistance.
“These new figures are extremely disturbing,” Wayne Thomson said. “Normally we would see an average of 400 new farmer registrations each month, but over the past two months the number has more than doubled.”
“We believe these numbers are not only an indication of the worsening drought but the impact that the recent bushfires have had on many properties.
“Farmers have had to reduce their stock numbers and then hand feed the stock they have left – which for many is their breeding stock. Some farmers have de-stocked completely so have no income coming in. It is not surprising they are contacting us for fodder and financial assistance.”
Santa’s helpers at Rural Aid
In the last quarter of the year, Rural Aid invited schools and community groups to send Christmas cards and messages to farmers and their families. The response and glitter were incredible:
- Over 700 schools and community groups sent in over 38,000 cards and letters.
- Over 198 volunteers, including corporate volunteers, were involved in mailing out Christmas cards and letters to almost 11,000 farmers and their families.
- Farmers received more than one card and letter. The amount of laughter, the occasional tear and glitter were immeasurable as the cards and letters were opened and read.
Messages of thanks from farming families
Merino Farmer, Mitchell QLD:
This morning we have received a gift card in the mail. We would like to thank you so very much for your generosity, it really does mean a lot to both myself and my husband in this dreadful drought. We are officially in our 7th year now. This gift card was totally unexpected and will be such a help to us. We wish your entire organisation a very happy Christmas and every happiness for 2020 with a good drenching of rain for everyone.
Cattle Farmer, Marlee NSW:
I just want to say thank you so much for the generous donation of a gift card we received today from your organisation and Glencore (to whom I have also sent thanks). It will help us greatly during this trying time. Thank you.
Farmer, Sapphire NSW
I would like to thank the special children who sent us a handmade Christmas card today. It was heart felt and my husband and myself had tears in our eyes as we read their sincere thoughts. So even though times are tough, we would like to say thank you so much. Merry Christmas to you all and thanks for caring about farmers you don’t know, but support you everyday!
Farmer, Glenn Davis NSW
I would just like to thank the kind children who wrote to us and we appreciate their kind words in these tough times. Fires drought and no rain takes its toll on many in our state. As a firefighter on the Gosper Mountain six weeks now, we wonder when it will end – feeding cattle and poor air quality day after day, this also keeps us from our jobs. So, thank you to those children who sent their best wishes. Our love to them all.
About Rural Aid
Rural Aid is one of Australia’s largest rural charities. Well known for the highly successful ‘Buy a Bale’ campaign, the charity also provides financial assistance, water and counselling to farmers in times of drought, flood or fire. Other initiatives support its vision that farming and rural communities are safeguarded to ensure their sustainability both during and after these natural disasters. Visit www.ruralaid.org.au for further information on these programs and other support for our rural communities.
Media enquiries: Raylee Huggett – 0447 116 757
Media interviews: Wayne Thomson – 0476 647 281