My name is Alison and I am part of a group of volunteers raising money to purchase hay to keep our Australian farmers in remote areas of NSW in operation. These farmers in the Wallget Shire have experienced years of drought and the hay drive will enable farmers to feed and save their breeding cattle and farms which has direct benefits to local communities and in maintaining employment.
Why should you care?
· Local food prices to rise: Beef farmers destocking in drought (selling off most of cattle to keep the breeders only) will create a shortage of Australian beef in future and mean significant price rises for Australian consumers. Lamb doubled in price in 2004 after the 2[phone redacted] drought.
· Rising food prices in the world’s poorest countries: In 2007 the UN reported alarming increases in overseas food prices directly impacting the world’s poorest countries as a result of our 2[phone redacted] drought.
· Maintaining employment in NSW: the farming sector accounts for 2% of NSW total workforce with around 77,000 people employed. Job losses usually result in dependence on government services.
· Knock on effect to other businesses, communities and employment: Businesses that depend on farming, like companies that provide and maintain tractors and farming equipment or process food products, are also negatively affected in time of drought. This can lead to more job losses.
· Sustainability of local communities: Remote rural communities are economically dependant on the farming industry to survive.
· Impact on families and community structure: most farmers have always been farmers and when the family business fails whole families and communities are impacted with the stress and loss, resulting in family breakdowns, pressure on mental health and emotional impacts.
· Because collectively we can make a difference to our farmers!
Who is doing the hay run?
Western Air Ministries Inc are a not-for-profit organisation and have been doing hay runs since 2014.After going to remote rural communities and seeing the severity of the drought volunteers initially planned 6 runs to deliver groceries and hay. With the drought still continuing in 2018 Western Air has delivered 26 hay runs to areas including Walgett, Wanaaring and Tibooburra Shires, and Bourke.
Dave and Kerry Jackson who run Western Air have been supporting the rural farmers for around 28 years after drought, flood and fires. They are predominately self-funded supporting themselves through their own private work and Dave has been a Chaplain for the Rural Fire Service for more than 20 years. Dave is also a pilot and has previously used his own plane (a Cessna 182 DHDLK) which Dave and Kerry purchased by selling their home to move around central Australia working with farmers and remote communities in need.
Dave was born and bred on a farm and understands the farmers and rural communities unique needs and is able to help those who are financially and emotionally impoverished through difficult circumstances on their land.
Kerry is a registered nurse and works closely with Dave. Kerry’s nursing training enables her to really understand people and communicate with those in acute need and draw out what is really going on, particularly with country woman so she can provide practical and emotional support.
How does Western Air identify the farmers most in need?
Dave and Kerry work closely with the local Rural Financial Counsellor in Walgett Julie Casey who assists in identifying farmers in need. Julie believes the hard work of Western Air Ministries in delivering hay to the farmers has benefits over and above that of the hay itself. Dave & Kerry and their volunteer’s kindness and generosity helps to remind farmers that they are not alone and that people do really care and continue to appreciate that farmers contribute to society year in year out
What happens next?
After the farmer in need are identified, Western Air volunteers then work with the farmers, access grant monies to transport hay (on the provision that the cost of the hay is donated). Western Air sources good quality hay at good prices and organizes the transport (meeting the transport grant conditions). The hay is delivered to a local point where the farmers come and collect it. This is where the go fund me comes in. The grant pays for the transport, volunteers do the organizing and labor but Western Air needs to fund money to purchase the hay.
Along with the hay Western Air now provides food vouchers of $200 for the farmers to use at their local community IGA or other food store. This helps to keep other jobs and local businesses alive during a time of drought and benefits the local community. Farmers can also purchase other essential needs like dog food. One good working dog is worth one good working man on a sheep or cattle station, so it is essential that we provide food for the dogs as well as the humans.
How much does it cost?
Currently good quality hay purchased in bulk costs from $45 a bale and 2 bales (8 foot by 4 foot by 4 foot in diameter) will generally feed 10 cows for 3 days. Around 70 bales are shipped per hay run with a cost of $3200 for the hay. Again the transport is already paid for the volunteers do the labor and organizing so we are just seeking support for the purchase of the hay.
How you can help?
We are looking to urgently raise $11,600. This will cover the hay for 3 runs and 10 family food vouchers of $200 each to spend locally. Any amount no matter how small or large you can give will help our farmers.
Could you please leave a message of support with your donation for our farmers.
When donating please leave your message of support to our farmers who are doing it tough and would love to know that their fellow countryman care. We will ensure each farming family gets copies of the go fund me support messages to read.
- Catherine White
- Bryan & Barbara Speed
- Kimberley Sutton
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