135 mid-north coast farming families benefited from more than 1,300 bales of hay and silage donated by Southern Highlands farmers and distributed through the Rapid Relief Team’s Farmers Community Connect events this week in Wingham and Kempsey.  

With the recovery and rebuild process on the mid-north coast underway, the events were as much about bringing the community together as the hay donations, RRT Director Lester Sharples said.

Designed to be a feel-good day for the farmers and local community, the events bring together mental health support, rural financial counselling, veterinary support and other local assistance providers all while the recipients share a bite to eat, and a coffee with their neighbours.

Farmers Community Connect is an initiative of RRT, made up of volunteers of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.

Mr Sharples said it was the Christian values of care and compassion that motivated RRT to help.

“It’s been a taxing time for farmers these last few years as they’ve battled through a long-standing drought, bushfires and now to the other end of extremes, floods.

“Many farmers lost their fodder during this disaster, and as we enter the winter season, it is unlikely the fodder will replenish itself, so RRT stepped in to help.

“It’s been some operation pulling these events together, and when donating hay and silage, it’s important to get it right. After all these farmers have been through, we wanted to ensure they received only the best quality hay that meets the highest standard of nutrition,” Mr Sharples said.

“To give these farmers assurance, we had our expert team source high-quality hay and silage from the Southern Highlands, and we engaged the NSW Department of Primary Industries to complete a standard nutritional fodder analysis, and test for nitrate, nitrite and prussic acid.”

Federal Member for Cowper, Pat Conaghan, said shared community spirit and pitching in and helping each other in times of need is what the mid-north coast community is all about.

“We’ve experienced drought, bushfires, the pandemic and now floods over the past 18 months, and while we are a resilient bunch, we need to stay connected and not be afraid to ask for help and take advantage of the various services and grants on offer.”

“These Farmers Community Connect events are a great way to access a number of services over a bite to eat and a coffee, but more importantly to bring us all together as a community,” said Mr Conaghan.

“I’m proud of the way we’ve banded together to get through everything nature has thrown at us and want to thank the Rapid Relief Team for organising these great events in Kempsey and Wingham.”

Since 2018, the Rapid Relief Team has helped 3,360 farming families with more than 13,000 bales of hay and nearly more than 2,000 tonnes of livestock pellets provided in times of need following drought, fire and flood to more than a dozen locations across NSW and Queensland.