Support for farmers doing it tough financially, mentally

RURAL AID: A shot of their road train full of hay to be delivered to farmers in need.
RURAL AID: A shot of their road train full of hay to be delivered to farmers in need. Contributed

"I WAS reading a story in The Australian one Saturday morning, about farmers shooting their cattle. My wife and I, and a few others around us decided to do something about it,” said Rural Aid CEO, Charles Alder. Sick of hearing about Australian farmers struggling with drought, Mr Alder started Rural Aid, an organisation that provides help to farmers through providing hay and stock feed as well as sending out volunteers to assist with farm work. Kent Morris,a sheep and cattle farmer on a property 60 kilometres south-west of Mitchell, runs a property in partnership with his mother.

"When we went into the drought in 2013 we had approximately 3000 sheep and about 300 cattle,” he said.

"I currently have about 1000 sheep and 60 head of cattle. "The cattle I sold off, but a lot of those sheep I lost due to predation of wild dogs, and the drought.”

Mr Morris said between the drought and the wild dogs, production on their farm had been completely crippled.

"It's gotten to the stage where I've actually had to seek off-farm work to keep things ticking along,” he said.

"Both my mother and I are now working off-farm to try and create enough income to sustain what we have.” Mr Morris said he was eternally grateful to Rural Aid.

"Charles organised a bunch of tradesmen and volunteers to come out and do a lot of jobs on farm,” he said.

"They helped me put the roof back on my shearing shed, it had blown off and I just didn't have time.

"I was busy feeding stock at that stage and I didn't have time to do it. They were able to organise some volunteers to come around and do that.” Mr Morris said most recently Rural Aid had organised volunteers to help with some exclusion fencing.

"They're very time consuming and expensive things to put up, and to have someone who was willing to spend a bit of time on your farm for the sake of it, and to help you do it, was pretty amazing really,” he said.

"It's not so much about the person that's coming and doing a task for me on the farm.

"It's the fact that there's someone there that acknowledges that you're doing it tough. The boost to morale of someone coming along, spending some time with you, who actually cares.” Mr Alder, said prior to Christmas they ran over 80 trailers of hay.

"We're running some more this week and next week to western Queensland but also into central New South Wales. On average we probably do 100 trailers a year, predominantly in Queensland and New South Wales,” he said.

"We do a lot of work with man-power on farms. We actually have over 6000 registered volunteers. At any one time we'll have volunteers farm sitting, helping farmers do fencing, looking after sheep and cattle rounding them up, or just doing general maintenance on farms.” Mr Alder said it's really important that farmers know there are people out there who are concerned about their welfare, both financially and mentally.

You can contact Rural Aid on 1300327624.

Topics:  drought drought-affected farmers hay rural aid volunteers

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