For some time The Maitland Mercury has been concerned about the growing severity of the drought in the Hunter. But for some reason, the penny hadn’t dropped for the movers and shakers in state government.
So our journalist Belinda-Jane Davis decided to do something about it.
From a farm herself, she knew first-hand how bad it was and felt someone had to champion the cause to help these farmers – the people who put food on our tables.
So she started ringing around and was shocked to report it was even worse than she feared – she was inundated with stories of dams drying up, no feed in the paddocks, stock going hungry and farmers slipping deeper into debt.
If the situation on beef farms is dire, she learned the circumstances our dairy farmers are facing daily is even worse.
Today’s front-page story about dairy farmer Jamie Marquet was typical – he has to feed a large herd of Holstein Friesians to earn a living, but his usually green paddocks are brown and dusty.
His only option to keep his livelihood afloat is to truck hay from interstate at an exorbitant cost. But he can only do it for so long.
As a community we cannot sit back and watch our farming industry crumble. And we will not allow our farmers to battle this unprecedented drought alone.
Today we launch a partnership with our Fairfax Media sister papers the Newcastle Herald, Hunter Valley News and the Scone Advocate, and the charity Rural Aid Australia.
Rural Aid, through its Buy A Bale campaign, is trying to help farmers across the country battle drought conditions.
Together we offer an online fundraising donation portal where you can contribute towards hay, water and groceries. We also offer details on how and where to drop off non-perishable food – and pet food – at selected locations.
There are options for individuals who want to help, and also for workplaces. You can register for a donation barrel, or receive a hay truck poster and donate to fill a load of hay. Businesses can also sponsor a truck. Money raised in the Hunter will go to local farmers. We are actively working to get other things in place that will benefit our farmers. We hope to announce them shortly.
This is a tough time, a time of serious hardship for many. It’s also a time when good communities stand together.