Ash Whitney from Goohli on his farm in the drought. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Ash Whitney from Goohli on his farm in the drought. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

$7500 problem crippling our nation

WHEN you hear the dollar values our farmers are facing they're frightening.

With farmers reporting they're churning through $1 million a year, there's one main issue that's crippling them and it lies in feeding their livestock.

Buy a Bale founder Charles Alder reveals a trailer of hay alone costs about $2500 and with transport costs getting up to $5000 to get a supply to a property, getting feed for animals is a costly exercise.

Trailers can have between 40 and 60 hay bales on them and one trailer goes to just one farmer because the resource is so desperately needed, especially in states like New South Wales where 99 per cent of farmers are drought-stricken.

Properties are too dry to produce any feed of their own and livestock are so starving farmers have been forced to shoot thousands of animals to put them out of their misery.

Mr Alder, who started the hay charity in 2013, has been inundated with requests from desperate farmers across the country.

Where they were once sending five trucks a week they now transport anywhere up to 15.

Their waiting list is 850 farmers long and Mr Alder said sadly if they delivered a trailer to someone one month, they would only be calling again a month later.

The program asks Aussies to lend a hand by donating towards something that can make a difference to farmers - $100 worth of hay feeds one cow for one week.

Every $4.40 goes towards diesel that transports hay 1km anywhere in Australia.

Every $250 delivers 11,500 litres of water to a farm within 100km of the collection point.

For even more hay, $9500 buys a semi-trailer load and transports it to an affected area up to 900km.

"It's an expensive business to be in," Mr Alder said. "There's a distinct lack of hay at the moment. It's never ending really, which is challenging.

"If we give them a truckload this month they'll come back next month and need another so that's pretty tough."

 

Coral Jerry, 80, on the family farm 'Marlborough', 40km outside Coonabarabran. She is currently raising 40 orphaned lambs, feeding them 4-5 times a day. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images
Coral Jerry, 80, on the family farm 'Marlborough', 40km outside Coonabarabran. She is currently raising 40 orphaned lambs, feeding them 4-5 times a day. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Mr Alder said they had 11,000 farmers on their database.

"It's just gone berserk," he said. "It's frustrating we have drought in Australia when we're such a lucky country with so many assets, it's a pity we have these challenges."

Earlier this year New South Wales dairy farmer John Fairley took to Facebook to ask the local community for help feeding his 130 cows and calves through the winter.

Usually the Fairley family would grow their own crops to feed their cows but back in May, as a result of the drought over the three months prior, their grain only had about 10cm.

Every two weeks they were ordering 25 tonnes of hay to feed their animals at the cost of a whopping $9000 each trip and buying extra grain, costing another $9000 every six weeks.

Mr Fairley came up with the Adopt-A-Cow idea where Aussies could donate $1350 to adopt a cow or calf and help save the farm.

NSW has recorded the fifth-driest July on record with the dry spell marking the seventh consecutive month of below-average rainfall across the state.

The latest Bureau of Meteorology climate summary, released on Wednesday, found it was also the driest July since 2002 with many areas across the state recording the lowest July rainfall on record or the lowest amount for at least 20 years.

The dry spell is hurting farmers with 99 per cent of NSW officially in drought.

Queensland's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries estimates 57 per cent of that state is in drought.

To donate to Buy a Bale visit their page.


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