Fund The Farmer
HELP US SUPPORT SHELLEY THE FARMER
Our most important blog post yet.
It is not often that we are lost for words. We hear about it on the news, and we read about it online. But a recent visit to a struggling cattle farm near Mudgee, seeing firsthand the heartbreaking drought conditions in which our farmers are living through, has only further fuelled our passion and drive to help support Australian farmers, especially those doing it extra tough.
Imagine someone said to you that over the next three years you need to maintain your lifestyle, pay bills, buy food, send your kids to school, feed your animals, run your farm and fill up your car with fuel, but with no income. That is the predicament facing many Australian farmers under severe drought conditions, and no one has felt the devastation more than a very special farmer from Hargreaves near Mudgee – Shelley.
Meet Shelley, an incredibly brave, strong women in her 60’s living and running her farm alone, still whipping around on her motorbike tending to her cattle and sheep. The farm has been in the family for just shy of 200 years and there has been no shortage of tough times during that period. From shearer strikes and threats stalking the property with guns back in the 70’s, bushfires, and drought Shelley has weathered many a storm but this is by far the most devastating. Why? Purely because the drought is so far spread.
“I am scared for our country – and this is the first time I can truly say that. We have seen nasty bushfires, bad droughts, catastrophes. But this time it’s so broad it’s covering such a vast area. Drought is devastating on a level that I never imagined we would see in Australia. What happens when people have been forced to leave the land – who is coming back to farm. Who is going to feed Australia?” says Shelley.
“There is no food for the animals, and you can’t rely on other areas to provide the feed because they don’t have it either! Unlike many farming children, my boys actually want to keep the farm in the family and continue to work the land”
Unfortunately, with the current drought conditions, and no rain on the horizon, things are bleak. With no crops to feed the animals, the cost of buying feed has gone up 300%, that is if the farmers can actually get it. It is approximately five years before farmers can receive any income from a young cow, so there is an urgent need to to keep them healthy for that time before any income is even possible. And the usual growers don’t have any feed either. “You can’t just go down the road and get a bale of hay anymore. Some of it is being bought in from SA and has to be bought in big volumes.
Shelley’s recount of her cattle crying at night from hunger and cold left us reeling and all of us practically in tears. Now that Winter is upon us, my cattle will not only be hungry but will be cold at night”. “And many don’t survive she says, if they fall down from exhaustion they cannot get back up”
Despite Shelley’s significant challenges, she still made time to invite us in for some old-fashioned country hospitality and we talked over a cuppa and a bickie. We listened to heartbreaking stories of the mental health issues facing many farmers particularly males without an outlet to discuss their problems. While Shelley is lucky to have her two incredibly supportive friends who visit her weekly to keep her going through the tough times, others aren’t so lucky. A neighbouring farmer has resorted to hand feed his stock but this has meant his diesel bill alone is now $13,000 a month just to drive around property to feed the stock. He is borrowing money just to pay interest for his loans. Even more distressing is that A few properties nearby have been sold to hunters not farmers – they are killing everything for sport not to eat!!
At the heart of the problem, without rain, the Macquarie River is supposed to be a flowing river – majestic and breathtaking. Usually 80m wide and 50 metres deep, it is practically dry. If doesn’t rain between now and next year it will be completely dry. The dam is supposed to feed 800 communities. There are towns around Mudgee with no water for drinking. The river was 168% down to just 6% 3 years on. Now it is a dirty dried up creek.
“We can live without electricity, but we can’t live without food and we certainly can’t live without water. Water is the key to everything. The more people are pulling from our water supply when it’s not being replenished with the drought is dangerous. We can’t keep taking without something going back. “
Shelley is trying to make it through the drought. To survive this, she has significantly reduced the number of cattle and sheep to the lowest amounts possible so she can rebuild once the drought is over. The waterways of the river used to be boundaries of property but now Shelley’s stock can go wondering as the river has dried up. Nothing is stopping them from wandering off and looking for something to eat. Fencing is not an option at present due to high costs.
Shelley’s aim is to ‘just get through it’ and come out the other side and retain her 193year old farm. But we would like to help.
SO HOW IS DELISH GOING TO HELP SHELLEY?
Delish lives by it’s brand mantra ‘fairer for farmers, fresher for you’ and we are putting our money where our mouth is. This Winter we are putting our efforts behind helping Shelley through the toughest time she has known. So how can you help?
- Delish will put $20 for any new user who joins and places an order.
- Delish will contribute 5% of all sales in July from people who join via the webpage and via our partner gym Tribe Social Fitness
- What can current members do to help?? Spread the word!!!
WILL THIS CONTRIBUTION HELP OTHER FARMERS?
We know this is confronting story, and our aim of course is to help Shelley but also to bring awareness of the drought back to the forefront of our Delish communities’ mind and continue to support all farmers ongoing.
We know you care about where your food comes from, that it is helping sustain the Australian food supply and support farm justice. We will continue to support our local farmers through our purchases – buying from local markets and local suppliers, in fair market conditions and paying fair market pricing, in season where possible. You won’t see any $1 milk in our online store.
After this we are committed to ongoing support through our DELISH FARMERS FUND to see how we can get involved on a bigger scale to see how the community can help future proof our Australian farming communities.