Coast steps up in fodder fight

Coast steps up in fodder fight


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Allan Hutcherson from body health care company Freshwater Brands, who has donated 560 silage bales from Buladelah. Photo by Freshwater Brands.

Allan Hutcherson from body health care company Freshwater Brands, who has donated 560 silage bales from Buladelah. Photo by Freshwater Brands.

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NSW has outstripped the other state's again with the highest numbers of farmers registering for drought assistance.

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"It's gone from bad to worse" is the only way Brian Egan from Aussie Helpers can describe the situation across the nation.

Everywhere he looks it's like a "moonscape".

"It's a never ending story, I thought I might have the answers, but I don't have the answers," Mr Egan said.

"I have people ringing me up in tears every week and we try to help as many as we can."

In the last year Aussie Helpers has supported 1500 farms and have issued $2 million in VISA cards.

NSW has outstripped the other state's again with the highest numbers of farmers registering for drought assistance with Rural Aid. There were 357 new registrations in February with Rural Aid compared to 305 in January. In the past six months, Rural Aid has distributed 48,000 bales of hay to more than 2,500 farmers and has disbursed more than $20 million for fodder, mental health counselling and financial assistance.

While it's getting desperate in many regions across the state, Mr Egan said there was silage from the coastal fringes that were being donated including hundreds from Allan Hutcherson, who owns body care manufacturing company Freshwater Brands. Mr Hutcherson was getting fencing done on his essential oil plantation at Mayers Flat near Bulahdelah when the contractor pointed out there was an abundance of feed.

"I couldn't put stock on it as there were no fences," Mr Hutcherson said.

"I heard Brian Egan from Aussie Helpers on the radio saying how they were buying fodder for drought affected farmers from all over Australia and transporting it to NSW and Queensland. He was talking about how the price of hay had just gone through the roof and it was a scarce as hens teeth. It was then that I decided I would donate it to Aussie Helpers to distribute to drought affected farmers."

So far he has donated 560 round silage bales from the 80 hectare property, in which 308 have been sent to Dubbo, Tamworth, Gundy,  Cumnock, Tullamore and Hungerford in Queensland. Fodder was also sent Belltrees, which hosted a cricket fundraiser that raised $33,000 last month.

"We decided to follow the silage to Belltrees and I'm so glad we did," he said. 

"When you see how dry and how tough the farmers are doing it, it puts it all into perspective. The truck driver was telling me that he had just taken a load of hay out to White Cliffs, he said 'there is not a blade of grass anywhere', so that is the definition of doing it tough."

His generosity has spurred on two of his neighbours who are donating fodder. "I urge anyone who has grass just sitting in paddocks to step up and get in contact with Aussie Helpers," he said.

A hay drop of 800 bales at Binnaway last Friday that was organised by Rural Aid and sponsored by Woolworths. Photo by Rural Aid.

A hay drop of 800 bales at Binnaway last Friday that was organised by Rural Aid and sponsored by Woolworths. Photo by Rural Aid.

Cattle at Binnaway grazing on the donated fodder from Rural Aid, who had 357 new registrations in February for drought assistance. Photo by Rural Aid.

Cattle at Binnaway grazing on the donated fodder from Rural Aid, who had 357 new registrations in February for drought assistance. Photo by Rural Aid.

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