Drought-stricken farmers have received more than $30 million worth of help from a single charity over the past financial year.
That’s a lot of money, but the conditions are so severe and widespread that the demand for help continues to soar.
Rural Aid CEO Charles Alder said calls for help were coming from across NSW, as well as interstate, and his team were still run-off their feet trying to quickly link farmers with assistance.
“Financial pressures continue to increase and, coupled with the generally lonely existence, emotional distress is a very real and growing burden,” he said.
Our ability to source hay for farmers to feed livestock is also getting more difficult with the price of hay increasing because of the longevity of the drought. Our counsellors are committed to supporting our farmers through this difficult period and beyond.
Hay and fodder relief was by far the biggest expense.
The charity spent $22.59 million on it between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019. That money bought 66,824 bales of hay – which weighed 37,698 tonnes, and put them on 1911 trucks to 599 destinations across NSW and every other state in the country. They hay was split between 3960 farmers.
Paying household and farm bills has become the biggest issue for farmers and the charity’s one-off $1500 relief payment has now given out $4.27 million to 4798 farmers. It continues to be a popular form of support.
Gift cards to buy fuel and groceries have also been in high demand with 4096 farmers issued with a prepaid card at a cost of $2.01 million. There were almost 490 farmers who requested help with water and shared in 7.6 million litres of it, which cost the charity $234,480.
Almost 5000 farmers requested access to mental health and counselling services and about 3700 of them were contacted. There were 389 face-to-face counselling sessions and 1972 phone consultations took place. Overall the charity spent $425,617 on these services.
Forty farms across NSW, Victoria and Queensland benefited from Rural Aid’s Farm and Community Rescues and saw 480 volunteers assist.
The charity spent $483,185 on this program.
The Gift of Music program for rural and remote children spent $289,273. This included buying 1075 instruments and giving them to 68 schools which has benefited 13,924 students.
The article’s credit is for the source: The Maitland Mercury