Buying food can become a luxury for farmers who are struggling with drought conditions but a new initiative hopes to change that.
NSW emergency services agencies and Police Minister Troy Grant have teamed up with Foodbank for the Feed A Farmer initiative.
Wollondilly councillor and Mowbray Park Farm owner Blair Briggs was asked to represent the farming community at the event launch last week.
“The Dilly Drought Drive asked me to attend the event and I was humbled to represent our farmers,” he said.
“I know the daily and weekly struggles of trying to run a property in this environment.
“My wife and I think the drought has added about three hours to our work day just in feeding animals morning and night.
“The recent rain has been good – it’s not drought-breaking, but it is spirit-lifting.”
Drought-stricken farmers and their families across the state will receive groceries and other much needed items donated to emergency service agencies across the state over the next two months, which will then be given to Foodbank NSW and ACT to be delivered to those in need.
Mr Briggs said this was an important initiative.
“Farmers often put their animal’s welfare before themselves – they will go without to keep their animals happy,” he said.
“If animals get sick it can cost even more money so farmers spend their money feeding their animals.
“Food prices have gone up and up – we’ve had food delivered from Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria.
“Farmers forgo all of the little luxuries because they have to manage with less.
“I am confident Feed a Farmer will be a great success.
“Australians have a strong sense of community when people have their backs up against a wall.”
Feed a Farmer was launched by NSW Police Regional Field Operations Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, the police minister and emergency services representatives.
Deputy Commissioner Worboys said this initiative was something all emergency services – with assistance of the community – can do to help farmers hit hard by drought.
“We all know farmers are tough, resilient and pride themselves on standing on their own two feet, but sometimes even the toughest need help,” he said.
“According to the Combined Drought Indicator, 98.3 per cent of the state is experiencing drought, and as a community based organisation, we need to do what we can to help provide some relief.
“Farmers are a vital part of our lives, and Feed a Farmer is an opportunity for emergency services to come together with the community to help ease the hardship caused by drought.”
Mr Briggs said another way to help out farmers was to support affected townships.
“I don’t want the towns to get lost in this discussion, by supporting them you are supporting the farmers,” he said.
“Wouldn’t it be great if instead of heading to Fiji or Thailand, people decided to take a drive to some of these towns and spend their money there.
“Book a room, buy some petrol, get some food. Every little bit helps to keep these towns alive – including Wollondilly.”
Collections for Feed a Farmer will run until Tuesday, December 4.
Food or necessities can be dropped to the Macarthur drop-off points during business hours from Monday to Friday.
The drop off points are Picton RFS at 65 Bridge St, Picton and the State Emergency Service Campbelltown headquarters, corner of Alderney Street and Townson Avenue, Minto.