Drought Crisis: How To Help Struggling Farmers

There are many ways to lend a hand to our fellow Australians.

A woman with no working stove and practically no food left in her pantry was handed a small yet much-needed lifeline when she was gifted a hamper by her community.

“You have no idea what this means to me,” she said.

Another waited until she was inside her car before she broke down in tears, so grateful -- yet ashamed -- to have received help.

"Farmers are a proud bunch. We don’t want a hand out all the time, but sometimes we do need a hand up,” Lynette Keanelly, who runs an apple and orchard farm in Oakdale, NSW, told ten daily.

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Farmer Lynette Keneally walks through a bare paddock of Christmas trees. Image: Emma Brancatisano

Keanelly is one of four farmers behind the 'Dilly Drought Drive,' set up to support others in the Wollondilly Shire who are struggling through an historic drought.

It joins a raft of other registered rural charities and communities that are working together across the country to deliver stockfeed, water and other essentials to those who need it most.

But they, too, are running dry. So, how can we help?

Help People Helping Farmers

Dilly Drought Drive founder Sharon Robertson has seen how drought is draining her community and friends. It is what drew her to set up the drive only months ago.

“We’re supporting 14 farmers now,” she told ten daily, “we like to keep it local. We have more people applying each week.”

Farmers behind the Dilly Drought Drive, another charity supporting farmers Wollondilly Shire, on Sydney's south-western fringe. Image: Dilly Drought Drive/Facebook

With charity ‘Lions Need For Feed’, the drive has now donated up to 600 hay bales, mostly from Victoria, and about two million litres of water through organised water runs via a local carter.

Keanelly, who volunteers with the drive, has sat on both ends.

“The team has been helping us out with water supplies and other products to help us insulate for spring,” she said.

“Everyone has different needs. Mine are different to those of a dairy farmer. So what I would ask of able people is that they donate to those who are helping us -- like the Dilly Drought Drive -- so that money will buy what we need.”

READ MORE: How Your Grocery Shop Can Help Struggling Aussie Farmers

Charities You Can Donate To

When donating to drought relief charities, it is really important to ensure the organisation is registered. By donating to a registered charity it's certain the donations are going directly to the farmers.

Here are registered charities to consider if you'd like to donate to drought-relief efforts.

Rural Aid's Buy a Bale -- By donating to Buy a Bale, you are providing food, hampers and fodder to farms all over Australia. Since it started in 2015, the charity has received over $4.5 million in donations and it had used these to offer support to farmers in the areas that need it most. This could be in the form of food hampers, wood fire to heat houses or even assistance with paying bills.

Drought Angles -- This group calls itself "the little charity with big hearts". They work to assist farming families that are affected by natural disasters nationwide and, of course, this includes drought. Their range of services include everything from providing feed to farmers to offering local produce vouchers and face-to-face and phone conversation services. Donations of $28 can buy dog food while $170 can buy a full box of groceries for a family.

Aussie Helpers-- This is one of the larger charities whose mission is to provide drought relief to as many farmers in Australia as possible. The group stays in touch with hundreds of farming families to ensure they are managing through both the good and the bad times. You're able to donate financially or give your time by volunteering with the group.

Lions' Need for Feed -- Need for Feed provides relief to people suffering from the effects of fire, drought and flood. It transports emergency fodder for animals and supports farmers as they work to rebuild their lives during and in the aftermath of drought. You can donate your money, your time or even some fodder that Need for Feed will come can pick up from you should you be unable to deliver it yourself.

Australian Red Cross-- The Red Cross'  Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal aims to provide short-term relief for farmers doing it tough as their land grows drier. Services provided by the Red Cross include financial support to help manage everyday household expenses, as well as assisting people in accessing social, health and educations facilities during a time in need.

If you want to help Australian farmers in need, you can donate to a registered charity. Donate online to Rural Aid's Buy a Bale, Drought Angels, Aussie Helpers or Lions' Need for Feed. You can also support farmers by buying Australian grown produce at your local supermarket.