Farmers help long road to drought recovery

Emma Millard  TBW Newsgroup
MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES: Emma Millard sits on a bale of hay made from slashed roadside grass in the Wye farming district.

Emma Millard TBW Newsgroup
MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES: Emma Millard sits on a bale of hay made from slashed roadside grass in the Wye farming district.

A MOUNT Gambier district resident has urged rural property owners to slash roadsides to produce hay for drought-stricken farmers, who are battling to feed their stock.

Appealing for a regional response, Wye resident Emma Millard says she wants landholders to band together to help farmers “crying out” for fodder.

Ms Millard – with the help from contractors and other landholders – has orchestrated roadside slashing and hay baling south of Mount Gambier.

The resident felt compelled to throw a lifeline to farmers who are battling devastating dry conditions and skyrocketing fodder prices due to the lingering drought.

It is believed the roadside slashing campaign is the first of its type in the Mount Gambier district.

While a sprinkle of rain fell yesterday over the hay bales that sat along the roadside, Ms Millard said many farming communities across News South Wales and Queensland had not seen decent rain for a long time.

Ms Millard said she wanted to see roadside hay donations in the Limestone Coast become a regional movement given the region was blessed with reliable rainfall and favourable climatic conditions.

“There have been times in the district where rainfall has been tough, it is not great but we all manage to get by,” she said.

For many farmers in areas gripped by drought, she said they did not know if it would rain today, tomorrow or months to come.

“It is a terrible shame so many farmers – in central and northern areas of Australia – have been in drought for so long.”

Sadly, she said many of these communities have also been hit with fire emergencies given the devastating tinderbox conditions.

Ms Millard said she hoped this heart-felt measure from Limestone Coast would warm the hearts of farmers facing unrelenting drought conditions.

Speaking to The Border Watch as the bales were loaded onto a truck yesterday, she said the idea came to her about 18 months ago when she noticed the dry grass along roadsides.

“I thought it would be great if landholders cut their roadside so we could donate that hay and keep farmers going,” Ms Millard said.

While last year “we have left our run too late”, Ms Millard said she rallied together farmers and contractors to make it happen.

“James Mann, from Donovans Dairy, J L Millard Contracting and Geoffrey Hancock helped with the process,” Ms Millard said.

She said 18 round bales had already been baled along one road in Wye – one round bale is the equivalent of up to 18 square bales.

It is estimated one round bale would provide enough feed for 60 cows per day.

Ms Millard said another road in the district had already been slashed and would be baled shortly.

The hay will be given to the Mount Gambier Hay Run, which is expected to deliver feed to farmers next month.

The Mount Gambier hay runners will start taking hay from January 11, with trucks scheduled to depart on January 23.

Organisers – who hope to organise a cavalcade of around 30 trucks- already has pledges of more than 800 bales.

The Mount Gambier contingent will head to Burrumbuttock, NSW, to join up with the main run before bales are delivered on Australia Day.