We can't abandon our farmers
Having been declared 100% in drought, New South Wales is currently battling one of the driest periods in over a decade. Experts are saying it might even be the worst drought seen in over 400 years. With their livestock and livelihood severely affected by the drought, Australian farmers are bearing the brunt of it physically, financially and mentally.
With a drier than expected winter, farmers have been left with failing crops, a short supply of water and diminished livestock feed. Despite the recent rain, the combined drought indicator has shown that no part of NSW is recovering. Farmers are churning through $1 million a year just to feed their livestock. As their land is too dry to produce any feed of its own, farmers are paying up to $5000 for a trailer of hay, which is double the cost of the hay itself. Their livestock are starving, and farmers are being forced to put down thousands of animals to stop their suffering.
Farmers are unable to buy their own drinking water. While the price of the water itself is inexpensive, the cost of getting it to their rural properties is. This is where we step in. AusRelief, in partnership with Turbans for Australia and the Australian Horizon Foundation, will be delivering potable drinking water to the rural towns in crisis.
Besides providing water, our threefold plan also aims to address the social and economic impacts that have rippled through these towns as a result of the drought. Local businesses have begun to suffer, morale is low, and it has been reported that the suicide rate in rural towns is double that of the city.
Maxine Finlay, sheep and cattle farmer from Baradine, NSW:
“The government has abandoned farmers. If you worked in the city for 12 months and then didn’t get paid everyone would be up in arms – the government would intervene. Our income from last year has gone on feeding animals to keep them alive. What happens when the feed runs out and we are forced to give up? Well, that’s next year’s income gone too…
How about the divorces and resultant ongoing ill health, the accidents and suicides that are the results of drought? People say how tough farmers are, but eventually everyone has a breaking point.
It’s not only whether this drought is worse, or longer, or whether the drought is over. It’s that It’s another one! I’ve been on the land for 40 years and the longer you have been here the more you realise how many times you have lost your income, and watched animals and family suffer. You can’t watch animals go hungry and be happy feeding yourself. Or you cut out little treats for your children.
Cut back, cut back. You don’t buy a business to go broke. You invest to be successful. To work for reward. To prosper.”
Our aim is to take 8 – 10 double water tankers to the towns of Narrabri, Walgett and Coonamble. Trucks will be travelling from both Sydney and Brisbane, carrying water suitable for human consumption ahead of the anticipated hot summer approaching.
The water will be dispersed into 1000L reusable IBC storage pallets, with each farmer receiving 2 – 5 thousand litres depending on their farm size and distance to main towns.
The average Sydney household uses 1008 L per week on showers alone and it costs them about $2. To deliver each 1000L pallet of water to the farmers will cost roughly $150.
It costs a lot more for a lot less, but every dollar and every drop counts.
As NSW suffers the extended drought conditions, regional communities and businesses are experiencing the flow on effects. They are experiencing falling sales, stagnant business growth and employment. While farm aid and food packages are beneficial to the farmers, they are detrimental to the local businesses.
By raising money to donate grocery vouchers we are able to help struggling farmers and the local businesses. Our plan is to purchase IGA gift cards that can be used in IGA, both providing the necessities to the people in need and stimulating business in these towns.
The financial burden the drought has placed on these farmers has had a severe effect on their mental health, with suicide and depression on the rise. This is made even worse as parents are feeling guilty for not being able to provide for their children. Some farmers have even reported that they have missed out on Christmas for the last few years. Our goal is to spread some joy in the lead up to Christmas, by surprising these kids with toys and stationery.
We are holding toy drives to collect gifts from the community. We are hoping that local shopping centres and schools will come on board with this toy drive. We will only be collecting brand new toys for ages 2+. The toys collected will be sorted and handed over in bulk to local charities who will distribute the gifts throughout the community.