Convoy heads to Sale

TRUCKLOADS of fodder will arrive in Gippsland this Saturday to support farmers battling drought.

The convoy will arrive at the Port of Sale about 11.30am, before heading off to farmers in Wellington and East Gippsland shires.

There will be a family-friendly welcome party at the port from 10am, with a Sale Lions Club  arbecue, jumping castles, and opportunities for businesses and individuals to donate to the cause.

The fodder is being made available through the Need for Feed Disaster Relief project, run by the Lions Club of Pakenham. One of the trucks will be driven by Sale Lion Frank Birthisel, with the truck donated by Barry Marshall and loaded with feed donated by Sale Lions.

Deliveries will be made to farms in some instances, and in more remote or inaccessible farms, depots with fodder and other goods will be set up as collection points.

That information will be relayed to those who have sought assistance.

Need for Feed chief organiser Don Petty, a farmer himself, said truck numbers transporting the hay would total about 30.

“At this stage 30 trucks, most semi-trailers, and support vehicles such as utes and trailers, a van full of care packs and hampers, will form the convoy, distributing predominantly in East Gippsland,” he said.

“Among the convoy will be about 15 old club permit trucks and about a dozen of those are prime movers.

“They are in really good condition and will make for quite a sight.

“We aim to support the local community wherever we go, and almost everyone has chosen to stay on overnight at Bruthen to help support the local area.”

Mr Petty said as far back as Australia Day, Need for Feed had a convoy visit.

“We’ve continued to bring hay down and we will continue to come — this won’t be the last time,” he said.

“Many people are unaware that farmers in east Gippsland are doing it tough.

“We hope this public hay run helps shine some light on the situation in East Gippsland.”

The fodder being delivered consists of some donated hay, but is predominantly hay bought by Need for Feed at market value courtesy of financial donations made to the volunteer organisation.

There have been some large donations made of late, and hampers and care packages are also made up of donated items.

Need for Feed has been overwhelmed by applications from people in trouble, highlighting the extent of the drought in eastern Victoria.

Mr Petty, who has been in contact with many farmers personally, said there had been “some wonderful phone calls”, with some farmers making a point of ensuring their neighbour is looked after as a priority.

“People just want to talk about it … there are some really tough stories.

“One of the reasons we do all this is to show farmers, some of whom farm and live alone, that they are not alone.”

East Gippsland mayor Joe Rettino said council was pleased to be able to help Need for Feed with logistics for the visit.

“We are tremendously grateful for the assistance the Need for Feed volunteers were providing East Gippsland farmers in their time of need,” Cr Rettino said.

“On behalf of those who receive a fodder or care package donation, and our primary producers more generally, we thank Need for Feed for identifying East Gippsland as needing a helping hand.”

Need for Feed has been supporting Australian farmers since 2006, through bushfires, flood and drought, with convoys distributing fodder and care packages courtesy of farmers available to donate fodder and with monetary donations from the public.

To apply for assistance, lodge an application on the Need for Feed website.

Donations can also be made through the website.