Farmers come to the rescue

January 10, 2017

Loading began shortly after dawn at Maitland, South Australia as the Lions' Need For Feed receives 450 bales of hay destined for farmers all over Victoria hit by the NDP collapse.

The Lions clubs’ Need for Feed disaster relief hay run organisers are celebrating, after more than $300000 was donated to help dairy farmers suffering since the National Dairy Products went into administration in November.

The initiative was established to deliver hay to farmers across South Australia and Victoria, who had been affected by the collapse of NDP.

Organiser Graham Cockerell said nine trucks had made the trip from Maitland in South Australia to pick up the hay from four farms, before delivering it to dairy farmers, including one in northern Victoria.

‘‘These dairy farmers and NDP suppliers stopped getting paid in May. They’ve been working for months for free, actually at a cost because of what it’s cost them to produce milk,’’ Mr Cockerell said.

‘‘The donations mostly came off one property, with help from their neighbours and friends ... (They filled nine trucks) but they would have filled 15 for us.’’

The relief fund initially began with $10000 in donations but quickly grew to $300000, as individuals and businesses began to donate funds.

Lions clubs and IGA stores across the country got behind the initiative, with IGA stores donating 10¢ from every litre of milk sales, resulting in a contribution of more than $50000.

Mr Cockerell said IGA and Ritchies had been a huge support, ‘‘matching or bettering’’ whatever funds were raised.

One IGA store in Shepparton donated $10000 to the relief fund, while a coalition of nine Lions clubs across the Goulburn Valley region raised more than $26000 for the hay relief fund, which will be matched by IGA.

Uwe de Temple organised the Lions fundraising in the region and said it had become a district project.

‘‘We put it out to other clubs to donate to the fundraising ... All the clubs had individual fundraising efforts,’’ Mr de Temple said.

The hay run has involved more than 25 volunteers, with some of the truck drivers taking time off work to participate in the marathon drive.

‘‘We couldn’t have done it without our volunteers ... we’ve offered to cover (the truck drivers’) fuel and meals but a lot of them have refused. They’re just happy to help,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re so appreciative (of) all our sponsors and volunteers, and also the public for supporting us.’’

Mr Cockerell said he’s already planning another hay run and they already have requests for more help, with a potential hay run on the Labor Day weekend.

 - Alana Christensen

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