Drought-stricken farmers were lined up in their trucks in Goulburn on Friday, eagerly anticipating a donation of hay.
The hay was coming courtesy of the Rapid Relief Team (RRT), who distributed 450 bales to them at Goulburn Recreation Area.
The hay had come from Tasmania and was ferried across the Bass Strait on a barge and carried to Goulburn by 13 semi-trailers.
Goulburn member of RRT Ron Arkcoll addressed the crowd saying the day was all about providing help to drought-stricken farmers.
“In four weeks RRT has raised over $3 million and purchased $1.5 m worth of hay with it and distributed it to drought-affected farmers throughout NSW,” Mr Arkcoll said.
“First we gave it to dairy farmers in Camden, then to farmers in Gunnedah and Condobolin and now to Goulburn.
“It is not pay day – its hay day for Goulburn farmers doing it tough.”
“RRT is the charitable arm of the Plymouth Brethren Church and it is in our hearts to provide help and support to farmers in need. It is all about giving hope and hay to our farmers.
“To date we have donated over 6500 bales of hay and contributed $150,000 for food coupons and have reached out to out to 500 drought stricken farmers.
“Our message to farmers is for you to take courage, keep your chin ups – for we are here standing mate to mate to see you through the end of this drought.”
Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor thanked the RRT for their support to local farmers.
He said this was one of the worst droughts he had seen.
“I have lived through drought here since the early 1970s. My family has farmed here for five generations and I have not seen a drought more stressful or farmers than this one,” Mr Taylor said.
“We have had tough droughts in the past, but in this one farmers are having to make the toughest farming decisions that I have seen,” Mr Taylor said
“This is because at the back end of this drought there will be record stock prices, so the decisions farmers are making now about whether to continue to feed or to sell are enormously stressful.”
Mr Taylor said his office had received many calls from farmers across the district and in turn they’ve referred us to others needing help, fodder in the main.
“We know this hay drop doesn’t touch the sides, but combined with other community efforts we hope it will spur on our local farmers. I want to thank the Rapid Relief Team for their generosity and kindness,” he said.
Member for Goulburn Pru Goward said she was pleased to see how so many people have magnificently risen to the occasion.
“I thank everyone who is digging deep, the Rapid Relief Team for their hard work today especially sourcing this fodder which will immensely help preserve our breeding herds,” Ms Goward said.
Braidwood farmer Sue Eding said the hay to farmers was like “manna from Heaven.”
“We should thank the public for contributing to this. No farmer wants to ask for help. We are usually the last people to ask for help - but now we need help,” she said.
“We have no water in the dams for the first time in 20 years. Farmers are resilient but it is sad to see the animals going to the slaughterhouse. We have all sold breeding stock. It has been a dreadful time.
“But without the support of the public we would not be here today.”
NSW Farmers Federation Goulburn Branch chair Margaret Cameron said it was great to see the this support assisting the local farming community.
“I hope this does help farmers in this dry period. What we really want is rain. Farmers are resilient but at times like these they may need assistance,” she said.
Those in need can contact DPI rural support worker Ted O’Kane on 0427 781 514.