Dilly Drought Drive to support local farmers

Wollondilly residents came together in 2016 and dug deep to help Picton recover after a devastating storm.

Eighteen months on, the shire is going through one of the worst droughts farmers have seen.

And they need locals to once again dig deep and help them through this tough time.

Residents can ensure our dairy and orchard farmers continue to thrive in the shire by donating to the Dilly Drought Drive.

The Oaks resident Sharon Robertson has organised the drive, which will be similar to the Burrumbuttock Hay Run in Queensland.

“Locals can go into Derks Pet and Rural stores in Picton and Thirlmere, The Oaks Farm Supplies and The Oaks Butchery to buy a bail of hay or donate money for a water drop,” Mrs Robertson said.

“Then bails of hay or water granules will be donated to farmers who run commercial properties above 40 acres in Wollondilly.

“Bill Derks and Paul Walker will then donate their time and resources to go out west to pick up the bails of hay and distribute them to farmers.

“We want to keep the rural and agricultural industries in the shire.

“We need to support the farmers because it is their livelihoods.”

Mrs Robertson said a truckload of hay would cost $4000.

Mr Walker said he had noticed how difficult the drought had been for farmers and wanted to do something to help ease the burden.

Glenmore dairy farmer Gavin Moore has completely dry dams, parched paddocks and is trucking in hay to feed his stock.

He said the drive was a practical way people could help local producers.

“Any hay relief would be a real benefit because it would used to feed our heifers,” he said.

“It is a good initiative similar to the Burrumbuttock Hay Run and the Buy a Bail scheme.

“When people donate it shows their community spirit and their willingness to get behind local farmers because I believe most people want producers to stay in the shire.

“If producers stay then it benefits the whole shire.”

Mr Moore said the agriculture and farming industries were still a big part of the shire.

“The industries are worth saving and fighting for,” he said.

“Locals helped Picton businesses after the floods and I hope they can provide similar support to the rural sector.”

Mr Moore’s farm only received 37 millimetres of rain over the last weekend of February and has only recorded 3 millimetres since.

“No rain has gone into the dams and we only have a green tinge,” he said. “We need follow up rain. The situation is desperate.”

Oakdale’s Top 40 Orchard farmer Lynette Rideout-Keanelly is also doing it really tough with her fruit and Christmas trees.

“I only have 8-hours of pumping water left that I am trying to hold onto for an emergency,” she said.

“My concern is that if my water reserves don’t replenish and there is dry winter then come Spring my trees won’t be able to survive.

“The lack of rain has also delayed me putting in my Christmas tree seedlings so that will cause me problems in a couple of years time.”

Mrs Rideout-Keanelly said it was difficult for farmers to ask for help so she was grateful to anyone who could donate.

“Farmers often feel a sense of pride and resilience and we just get on with things,” she said.

“But when you battle the elements and get cut down at the knees then it can take a toll on you mentally.

“Farmers want to be self-reliant but we have to realise that sometimes we can’t do it alone.

“So hopefully this drive brings attention and help to those farmers who need it.”

The drought drive team wanted to thank Chris Cranfield for donating water to orchardists.

Khan’s Supa IGA at Bargo and Bargo Netball Club will host a fundraising barbeque on Saturday March 17 from 9am to 1pm at the IGA car park to help raise money for the drive.

Details: Name: Lions Club of Tahmoor, BSB: 633 000, account number: 157928458. 

For more information, visit Dilly Drought Drive on Facebook.