Victorian farmers dig deep to help drought-stricken mates
ONE of the worst droughts on record is taking a growing toll as livestock starve en masse and farmers are forced off their land.
The entirety of New South Wales is rain-starved, with some parts receiving less than 20mm this year. For many farms, it's the driest 18 months since records began in 1900. The Bureau of Meteorology's latest outlook for the next three months predicts high chances of warmer and drier conditions over the affected regions.
MORE: INSIDE A TOWN IN DROUGHT
Winter crops during the driest autumn since 1902 will largely fail, while many farmers in the northern half of the state didn't bother sowing any crops and won't draw an income until December next year.
More than half of Queensland is also grappling with the unrelenting drought, the landscape bone dry.
Families hardest hit by the drought are struggling to pay household bills like food and energy, and they need livestock feed to stop their farms going under.
Farmer Les Jones was last month preparing to shoot his 1200 starving sheep, until a flood of donations helped to turn the tide.
He has lived on his farm at Goolhi, west of Gunnedah in NSW, for 60 years.
All dams on the property are either dry or contain just a few centimetres of brown water, which they had to fence off because sheep were getting stuck and dying in the muddy banks.
Graham Cockerell is leading a charge by Victorian farmers to give their mates in NSW a helping hand.
For weeks now they have been organising donations of much-needed stock fodder and care packages for those families in the dry zones.
"Quite often there are tears when we turn up," Mr Cockerell says. "Even from the toughest blokes."
About 50 trucks loaded with fodder will take part in the next run, on Friday August 31. A Lions Club of Pakenham initiative, Need for Feed was launched 12 years ago aimed at helping farmers across Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula.
Care packages sent out with each delivery will also include special men's packs in the lead-up to Father's Day including beanies, heavy-duty socks, sunscreen and safety glasses to help those blokes tirelessly working on their properties.
Registrations are still open for truck drivers to take part in the next run.
Information and donations at needforfeed.org