Cause for Country

I spend a lot of time talking about me on here. That’s basically what a blog is about isn’t it? It’s pretty narcissistic really. Tonight, though, I don’t want to talk about myself. I want to talk about farmers.

See, even though I’m not from a farm directly, I’ve grown up around farming communities, with an understanding of how important farming is to Australia. What you learn as a kid growing up in the country is that everything is interconnected. For example, you plant seeds to grow wheat, which you might turn into hay to feed cows which you might milk to make cheese, which you might sell to get money, which you’ll probably use to buy more seeds to start everything over again. Simple, right?

But what happens if that cycle is broken? What happens if the wheat doesn’t grow, or there’s not enough food for the cattle? What happens if the cow’s milk turns sour, or you don’t get enough money for the cheese? What happens if it simply doesn’t rain, so you can’t sow the wheat or keep the cows watered?

Most of those are what-ifs. For farmers around Australia, though, the last one is a reality. You see, even though we had floods just a few years ago, much of Australia is in the throes of it’s worst drought in history. In fact, for the majority of my thirty years, our country has experienced some level of drought or another, which means, this drought is essentially just a continuation. For farmers, this means a continuation of intense hardship.

It’s impossible to explain in words the sheer extent of strength these farmers have, or the knock-on effect the drought has on their lives, and the lives of their families. Poverty, bankruptcy, lost legacy, suicide. This is what drought brings to farmers. This is what Australia is facing right now.

This story, by reporter and farmer’s son, Alex Cullen, made me cry (warning: some of the images may be distressing for animal-lovers):

(See Part Two here).

I’m one of the first to disregard prime-time current affairs programs. Usually the stories are over-dramatised, and full of exaggerated facts. This one is not. If anything, it isn’t dramatic enough. What hurts the most is that this coverage is some of the only mainstream media coverage on the topic. The media mentions the government assistance being offered (which is pittance), there is the occasional good-news story, and when it really rains the reporters are there, but that’s it.

Our farmers are hurting. Suicide rates are rising. Our country is dying. Yes, the government is offering support, but for many farmers it’s not enough for more than a few months. For others, it’s simply impossible to get, because of the requirements they need to meet to receive it. For so many more, it’s just far too late.

And what does this have to do with you? Well, if you’re not from Australia, probably not much, directly. If you are in Australia, though, think about this: the farmers grow your food, so the less they produce the less available. This makes prices rise. Lack of quantity also means a drop in quality, which means smaller, less pretty fruit and vegetables. If people are paying more for food, they tend to save money in other areas, like entertainment, eating out, and shopping. Farmers are also big spenders, but if they aren’t making money, they can’t afford to buy new things. This means, if you work in retail, food, or hospitality, things are going to get slower, so your boss might want to lay off staff. If you’re not in a service industry, you’ll be paying more for your food, but you’ll also probably be suffering with the knock-on effects, after all service industry businesses will have to cut back somewhere, they may choose to reconsider their advertising, legal advice, or accounting.

I know this might all seem a bit dramatic, but that’s because this situation is pretty real. This drought is deadly. For farms, for animals, and for the farmers. They need our support. So, from one narcissistic blogger, to all you other narcissists, bloggers, and other internet regulars, please donate to one of the charities below. Give a couple dollars back to the farmers who grow all the yummy fruit, meat, and grains you eat.

Aussie Helpers
Working with the motto “Care, Share, Respect”, Aussie Helpers is providing support to drought-stricken farmers, by sharing donated items such as hay, dog food, fuel, and money, while maintaining the farmers’ dignity and providing opportunities for socialisation and friendship.

Buy a Bale
Buy a Bale was founded on the concept of donating the amount  it costs for a bale of hay, allowing them to buy and distribute hay to farmers doing it tough. On top of donations for hay, it now offers opportunities to give of your time, fuel, or products to provide much needed relief to drought-stricken families. It also works alongside The Give Back Campaign, meaning you can support Buy a Bale simply by shopping at partnered stores.  


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