Need for Feed helps struggling farmers

Need for Feed helps struggling farmers


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IN early January this year, members of the Lions Clubs charity Need for Feed set off to Maitland, SA, to pick up a substantial donation of hay and straw organised by local farmer Elden Oster.

ON January 4 this year, members of the Lions Club’s charity Need for Feed set off to Maitland, SA, to pick up a donation of hay and straw, organised by local farmer Elden Oster.

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The hay was transported back to Victoria by a convoy of nine trucks, two support vehicles, and 20 volunteers, and will be donated to struggling farmers on Australia Day.

Need for Feed coordinator Graham Cockerell, who started the charity event 10 years ago, said donations had previously gone to areas affected by fire, but this year’s focus was dairy farmers.

“Farmers are at the mercy of the weather and free markets, and dairy farmers faced a lot in 2016,” Mr Cockerell said.

“If we don’t look after farmers, we’ll have to start buying food overseas.”

He said despite being offered 15 loads of hay, they were only able to get 10 trucks together, with one pulling out at the last minute.

“It’s a bad time of year, with holidays, scheduled maintenance, and harvest still going,” he said.

But upon returning from the trip, they were offered another helping hand.

“When we got back, the father of one of the volunteers called to let us know that he could get together five trucks to head up on Friday to pick up the rest of the load,” he said.

Mr Cockerell said the volunteers had come from many different walks of life.

“There were truck drivers who borred trucks from their bosses, small business owners who owned trucks, and eve bigger business who owned trucks too,” he said.

“We’ve had more help this year than ever before.”

He said they’re hoping to give back in many ways.

“In conjunction with IGA, we’ve so far raised $300,000, that will go into food vouchers and hampers, that we’ll give out to these farmers too,” he said.

“We’ve also just started a joint campaign with the CFA, who’ll be collecting non-perishable food items and money donations, that we’ll distribute to farmers in need.”

He said they’re currently in the process of allocating where donations will go, but that it would be widespread throughout the state, and even into Tasmania.

“It’ll mostly be to family farms, and suppliers to the National Dairy Products,” he said.

If we don't look after farmers, we'll have to start buying food overseas. - Graham Cockerell, Need for Feed

HELPING HAND: A convoy of nine trucks, two support vehicles and 20 volunteers headed off to South Australia in early January to pick up a large donation of hay and straw, that would be distributed to struggling farmers in Victoria.

HELPING HAND: A convoy of nine trucks, two support vehicles and 20 volunteers headed off to South Australia in early January to pick up a large donation of hay and straw, that would be distributed to struggling farmers in Victoria.

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