MURRAY Goulburn has suspended its clawback payments for the remainder of this financial year, confirming the backflip in a letter to suppliers this morning.
The Burrumbuttock Hay Runners and Lions Australia joined forces to deliver 520 Christmas hampers and toys to farmers across Victoria in a gesture designed to ease pressure on families.
Chocolates, IGA cards, Lions Christmas pudding, custard, chips, shortbread, Christmas crackers and other treats and toys were collected and packed at Cobram and then delivered across northern Victoria, Gippsland and south-west Victoria.
Burrumbuttock Hay Runners was formed about two years ago and has previously donated hay to NSW and southern Queensland.
“We’re just a bunch of ordinary people, farmers and truck drivers,” spokesman Dan Edwards said.
“None of us get paid; we just do it when we can.”
They’ve moved 11 loads of hay to drought-affected areas and the most recent involved 260 prime movers with support from Lions Club members.
“Instead of hay, which there’s plenty of this year, we thought we’d take a bit of pressure off and supply a few goods for Christmas,” Mr Edwards said.
“We know the dairy industry has been doing it tough with the milk prices. Generally farming is pretty hard at the moment.
“It’s not going to save people from going broke but we thought we’d do something to help their mental health. It’s the Australian way – show people you care when they’re doing it tough.”
Mr Edwards said the Hay Runners had joined with Lions Clubs because of their connections with local communities.
“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “They rock up in utes and know what farms to go to.”
He said it was hoped the campaign would push the plight of farmers back into the public conscience.
“Farming is a big thing for rural towns; if farmers don’t spend money it impacts on all rural towns,” he said.
The Barooga Lions Club had helped with an earlier hay delivery and other farmer relief work and president Lynda Ryder said farmers continued to need support.
“We need to help our dairy farmers,” Ms Ryder said.
“They’re been having a hard time. Farmers in our area in northern Victoria have had no rain, no feed, high water prices, then the milk price crash, then floods. Dairy farmers seem to be kicked in the guts whatever they do.
“They’ve been around helping us for years so it’s about time we pay it forward.”
Ms Ryder said the hampers were designed to bring a bit of cheer and relief to farming families.
“We included things we thought wouldn’t be essentials on the shopping list,” she said.
Local Lions Clubs have been distributing the hampers.