Charity-funded drough co-ordinator to deliver fodder to farmers

WIDESPREAD PROBLEM: Aussie Helpers drought co-ordinator Krystal Haycock, co-founder Brian Egan and member for Orange Phil Donato. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
WIDESPREAD PROBLEM: Aussie Helpers drought co-ordinator Krystal Haycock, co-founder Brian Egan and member for Orange Phil Donato. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

FARMERS struggling through drought will now have extra support from a charity, which has accused the state government of simply not caring. 

Fourth-generation Yeoval farmer Krystal Haycock has been appointed NSW co-ordinator for drought charity Aussie Helpers.

Supported by volunteers, she will visit farmers and assess what assistance they need, from fodder and groceries to emotional support, before delivering it. 

Aussie Helpers co-founder Brian Egan made the announcement in Orange on Thursday, saying the main aim was to keep breeding stock alive.

“Fifty-two per cent of breeding stock in NSW has gone to slaughter because people can’t pay their bills,” he said. 

“The cattle prices are going to go berserk in the next couple of months [and] food prices and supermarket prices will be so dear, people will be horrified.”

Mr Egan said the charity’s psychologists received 50 calls a week, while the price of hay and oats had risen from $100 a tonne to $400.

“At the moment, we’re giving away about three road trains of hay every week in NSW,” he said.

“Every community we go to wants to help us because they can see the problem.

“It’s a bit of an indictment on this government for not sticking up for these people and keep farmers farming.”

He said low-interest loans on offer did not necessarily help farmers cover feed, but instead to buy silos or water troughs.

“I don’t know what they’re going to put in the silo because there’s no grain, there’s no water,” he said.

“It’s just stupidity and whoever’s making these decisions are just getting the wrong information – out of touch is not the word, they just don’t understand and more importantly than that, I don’t think they care.”

Ms Haycock, who will be based at the charity’s Dubbo headquarters, said farmers were feeling the pressure in Molong, Yeoval and Blayney, as well as further west. 

“They haven’t had rain in 18 months and they haven’t had a crop so they haven’t had a wage in 18 months,” she said. 

“There’s a lot of farmers out here who are out of water in their house altogether so they’re showering at gyms and using public showers and so are their children, it’s desperate.”

Member for Orange Phil Donato, who has visited Ms Haycock’s farm, said the state government’s appointed drought co-ordinator, Pip Job, had not resulted in food and fodder being delivered to farmers

“We’ve had a drought co-ordinator on a listening tour for several months now, what’s been delivered? Very little,” he said. 

He disagreed with statements from Premier Gladys Berejiklian freight subsidies would distort the market, saying loans only increased farmers’ debt.

“They can set a floor price to control the market and if they’re offering loans for the purpose of purchasing freight, for example, how is that not distorting the market? That’s just a cop out,” he said. 

To access assistance or donate, visit https://aussiehelpers.org.au