Farmers call for drought policy reform in New South Wales

Many drought-stricken farmers across NSW have been calling for a drought policy reform that factors in major environmental issues faced every day, such as climate change.

Joel Orchard is one of these farmers. Running a small peri-urban garden in Mullumbimby on the NSW North Coast, Joel said policymakers need to ensure the voices of farmers are heard.

“Farming has historically been such an individual and isolating pursuit,” he said.

“It’s vital that we include the perspectives of farmers both at the policy and consumer education level.

READ: Australian farming sector holding up, despite ongoing drought

“At the moment, many small-scale and agroecological farmers don’t have a say in the policies that make a difference to their own working lives,” said Orchard.

He will join international expert on food security, Dr Eric Holt-Giménez, and independent researcher Eva Perroni for a panel discussion at the University of Sydney.

The University of Sydney event Building Food Utopias, will be co-presented with the Sydney Environment Institute and chaired by Dr Alana Mann from the Department of Media and Communications.

Mann said policymakers and academics alike need to get better at listening to farmers.

“As more and more farmers leave the land because of the tough conditions, Australia’s food security is increasingly under threat.

“Australia’s grocery market is the second most concentrated in the world,” he said.

Holt-Giménez said institutions and networks have an important role to play in filling this gap.

“As the food system has become privatised, our social institutions have become weakened. It’s in policy-makers’ best interests to strengthen them so that truly transformative and effective public policy is achieved,” said Holt-Giménez.

 

Drought finance taskforce will further support Australian farmers

The federal government, the National Farmers Federation and banks are working together through a new drought finance taskforce.

The taskforce is designed to leverage resources and share insights on ways in which the government and banks could further support drought-affected farmers, and rural and regional small businesses.

The group will include the treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who will serve as chair, the minister for agriculture and water resources David Littleproud, who will serve as deputy chair, drought special envoy Barnaby Joyce, regional Queensland member of parliament John McVeigh, a senior representative from the National Farmers Federation and a senior representative from ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank, Rabobank and Westpac.

The initiative will consider and respond to the impact of the drought to farmers, but also small businesses that depend on farming activities.

READ: Cattle prices trend down as drought conditions increase pressure in market

The taskforce will leverage government, business and industry resources in rural and regional communities to further determine the impact that the drought has had or is having on farmers and local small businesses.

It will establish mechanisms to share insights in a timely manner and it will advise the government, bank CEOs and the National Farmers Federation on drought impacts as well as further measures that could help alleviate the impact on farmers and local small businesses.

The establishment of the taskforce follows the drought roundtable held by Littleproud in early July at which banks and farm groups discussed financial literacy issues and farm management deposits.

The government continues to prioritise regional and rural communities affected by the drought, as demonstrated by the expansion of the $1.8 billion drought assistance package.

The taskforce is an additional way for government, business and industry to work together and ensure that they are not only receiving the most up-to-date information, but also able to respond quickly, so farmers and local small businesses receive the additional support they need, as soon as possible.

 

Coles increases milk prices to help drought affected farmers

Coles has increased the price of its 3-litre own brand milk from $3.00 to $3.30 in all states to help drought affected farmers.

The price increase started in late-September and will be in place until the end of the year, with 100 per cent of the increase donated to farmers.

Coles and its customers have already committed about $12 million to drought relief, including $5m from the Coles nurture fund to assist drought-affected farmers.

Farmers affected by drought will receive the donations from the milk through the National Farmers’ Federation’s 2018 drought relief fund.

READ: Lamb wins big at Sydney Royal Taste of Excellence Awards despite drought

Coles has been partnering with the federation since 2012, to support Australian farmers.

Coles’ fresh milk is 100 per cent Australian.

For several years, Coles has sold a number of milk brands with a percentage of sales going to support dairy farmers in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Customers could also make donations at any Coles checkout across Australia for the months of August and September, with Coles matching donations dollar for dollar.

Organisations such as the Australian Red Cross are also helping drought-stricken farmers by offering up the chance to apply for grants.

The Red Cross has $11million worth of grants to give out to farmers, farming families or farming-dependent contractors in drought-affected areas of NSW, ACT or Queensland.

Grants can help people meet household expenses, such as food, vehicle maintenance, school expenses, electricity, gas or rates, telephone expenses and dental or medical expenses.

More than $7 million raised by Woolworths Group and customers for drought-affected farmers

The Woolworths Group, together with its customers, have raised more than $7 million to date for Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale appeal in support of farmers impacted by the drought.

The total includes Woolworths’ initial $1.5m, customer donations made at stores across the group – supermarkets, metro, BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Big W, as well as profits from sales in the fresh departments at Woolworths Supermarkets on the 11th of August.

The money is already being used by Rural Aid to deliver more livestock feed, cover essential household expenses and provide additional counselling support services to farmers in need in rural areas.

Rural Aid CEO Charles Alder said it had been incredible to see the whole nation rally together to help support the strong and resilient Australian farming community during this tough period.

READ: Australian farming sector holding up, despite ongoing drought

“The funds raised by Woolworths are already starting to help farmers who have reached out to us in urgent need of feed for their livestock, as well help with household expenses,” he said.

“Additionally we’ve been able to increase vital counselling services available for farming families in regional communities, with counsellors coming on board in Broken Hill and Lighting Ridge,” said Alder.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said the group had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity from customers and store teams in support of the Australian farming community.

“Our store teams, particularly in regional and rural areas, have continued to go above and beyond to support fundraising efforts because they know it makes a real difference for those impacted in their local community,” he said.

“We are proud to have collectively raised and donated more than $7m for Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale appeal, and we continue to look at ways to support their work above and beyond fundraising,” said Banducci.

Woolworths is also supporting the organisation with resourcing in the areas of logistics and planning.

Alder said moving livestock feed was a huge logistical challenge, but the group were working really hard with industry partners to support this.

“We are grateful to the additional support the Woolworths Group supply chain has been providing to ensure more hay and much needed supplies are getting to our farmers in need, as quickly as possible,” said Alder.

 

 

Supermarkets match customer donations dollar-to-dollar to help farmers

Supermarkets in Australia continue to provide farmers with help during the drought, including Coles with its pledge to match customer donations dollar-for-dollar.

Coles’ promise to match customer donations will go for the entire month of August, in order to help farming communities doing it tough due to drought conditions.

The combined donations raised at checkouts and matched by Coles will be provided to the Country Women’s Association to support drought-affected families, to help cover household expenses such as school expenses and food, medical, electricity and water bills.

Coles managing director John Durkan said customers wanted to do more to support families affected by drought.

READ: Sheep and cattle slaughter increases to reduce stock numbers during drought

“For every donation no matter how big or small, our customers can be assured they will be making a difference to the rural communities experiencing hardship and distress,” said Durkan.

The matching donation  is in addition to $5 million already pledged in grants or interest-free loans from the Coles Nurture Fund for farmers who have a project which will help them to combat drought in the future.

Harris Farm Markets also announced it is matching donations dollar-to-dollar in August.

In a release, Tristan Harris, from Harris Farm Markets, said farmers deserved a fair grow and they needed people’s support in these trying times.

From the 2nd of August the supermarkets had donation boxes in all its shops collecting funds for rural aid, for four weeks.

Harris Farm Markets also had a cook-up at all stores in the first weekend of August, selling food for $5 with all proceeds helping provide hay and stock feed for drought-stricken farmers.

On the 11th of August, Woolworths donated all profits from sales in the fresh departments at its supermarkets to the Rural Aid Buy a Bale appeal.

It followed a $1.5 million donation from Woolworths, in July, aimed at supporting farmers impacted by the drought.

 

 

Woolworths will donate Saturday’s profits from fresh departments to rural aid

Woolworths will donate all profits from sales in the fresh departments at its supermarkets made on the 11th of August to the Rural Aid Buy a Bale appeal.

It follows a $1.5 million donation from Woolworth’s, in July, aimed at supporting farmers impacted by the drought.

Rural Aid CEO Charles Alder said the Australian farming community was a resilient one, but there was an urgent need for ongoing support for farmers who continued to do it tough during the drought.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response of the Woolworths store teams and customers over the past week. Since the supermarket came on board as a partner with their initial $1.5m donation and opened up fundraising channels in their stores, we’ve been able to provide more certainty to hundreds of farmers who have reached out to us in urgent need of feed for their livestock,” he said.

READ: Sheep and cattle slaughter increases to reduce stock numbers during drought

“Additionally we’ve been able to increase vital counselling services available for farming families in regional communities,” said Alder.

Woolworths managing director Claire Peters said it had been amazing to see customers and store teams rally behind Australian farmers.

“In less than a week, our customers have already donated in excess of $600,000 for Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale appeal through our checkouts nationwide. This generosity is making a real difference in rural communities, and has inspired us to build on our support of Rural Aid’s vital work,” said Peters.

All of Saturday’s profits from sales of fruit, vegetables, meat, the chilled section, bakery and deli at Woolworths supermarkets nationwide and online will help support farmers.

Alder said this further boost of funding would have a significant impact on the long term support provided to farmers in drought affected regions.

Customers can also donate to the Buy a Bale appeal at any Woolworths, Woolworths Metro or Woolworths Petrol store, as well as Woolworths Online.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible and 100 per cent of the funds go to Rural Aid.

 

Sheep and cattle slaughter increases to reduce stock numbers during drought

As a result of continued drought in the eastern states, the number of sheep, lambs and cattle being slaughtered has steadily increased as producers in effected regions reduce stock numbers.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show and increase in livestock and meat slaughter for June 2018.

Cattle slaughter increased by 5,700 head – 0.9 per cent. This is compared with the previous month and increased by 47,600 head, or 7.8 per cent, year-on-year.

Calf slaughter increased by 615 head, 1.8 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 – compared with the previous month and increased by 3,300 head, 10.3 per cent, year-on-year.

READ: Australian beef exports have increased in key markets such as Japan and China

Sheep slaughter increased by 47,100 head, 5.7 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 –compared with the previous month and increased by 245,400 head, 39.3 per cent, year-on-year.

Lamb slaughter increased by 29,400 head, or 1.4 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 – compared with the previous month and increased by 226,700 head, 12.2 per cent, year-on-year.

Pig slaughter increased by 706 head, 0.2 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 – compared with the previous month and increased by 12,000 head, 2.7 per cent, year-on-year.

With the drought affecting so many farmers, governments and supermarkets are among those helping to provide funds to drought-stricken areas.

Woolworths is supporting drought affected farmers with a $1.5million funding boost to Rural Aid.

Hundreds of farmers will benefit from the $1.5million investment from Woolworths via Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale program, which provides support to farmers in need by delivering hay for cattle feed, as well as other essential items.

The support from Woolworths will also allow Rural Aid to increase the number of counsellors they have supporting farmers and their families impacted by mental health issues as a result of the drought.

Coles is also giving out $5 million in grants and interest-free loans from its nurture fund to help farmers across Australia combat drought.

In the past year, Coles also provided more than half a million dollars in grants to farmers who applied to the Coles nurture fund to implement initiatives to make them less dependent on rain.

 

droughtColes

Coles announces $5 million to help farmers combat drought

Coles is providing $5 million in grants and interest-free loans from its nurture fund to help farmers across Australia combat drought.

In the past year, Coles also provided more than half a million dollars in grants to farmers who applied to the Coles nurture fund to implement initiatives to make them less dependent on rain.

In Coolac, New South Wales, Michael Crowe from Gobarralong Valley Beef used a $400,000 Coles grant to build facilities to manufacture a nutritious animal fodder indoors – making him less dependent on grass and water.

At Oxley Flats in Victoria, Nigel and Hannah Stephens received a $134,000 grant to install a more efficient irrigation system so they could reduce their water use and grow grass-fed beef all year round.

READ: NSW government offers more funding for drought-stricken farmers

Coles also launched a fundraising appeal at the end of July at its checkouts for people to support farmers struggling with the effects of drought.

All funds raised at the checkout will be provided to the Country Women’s Association to provide support to drought-affected families to help cover household costs such as school expenses and food, medical, electricity and water bills.

Coles managing director John Durkan said Coles was keen to do more to support families affected by drought.

“Many of our team members at stores in drought affected communities have heard harrowing stories from customers about the impact of the drought,” he said.

“Our store teams in these communities have helped by collecting donations of non-perishable food or providing gift cards but we wanted to take action at a national level to help more families facing hardship right now and to help farmers to combat drought in the future,” said Durkan.

Coles’ support will involve a fundraising appeal whereby customers can donate $2, $5, $10 or an amount of their choice at any Coles checkout across Australia, and $5 million in grants or interest free.

The company is also supporting its grass fed beef suppliers by buying their livestock as grain fed beef if the farmers have been forced to feed grain to their cattle during the drought.

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