'It Could Change Someone's Life': These Best Mates Want You To Phone A Farmer
Young farmer Jim Honner knows all too well the power of a five-minute call, and he's urging you to pick up the phone.
For the past three years, the 24-year-old has been running his family's sheep farm in Jugiong, on the southwest slopes of NSW.
Like many, 2018 was a tough year. As the drought has slowly ravaged farms across several states, Honner has been out feeding stock every second day.
"It does become quite draining. Just having someone on the phone and seeing what you're up to is a huge boost," he told 10 daily.
Most days, his best mate Sam Johnston is on the other end of the call.
Johnston works in rural property sales in Sydney but has grown up on his family farm in Forbes, in western NSW.
After meeting Honner at boarding school, the pair became close mates while studying agricultural economics at the University of Sydney.
Now, Johnston spends much of his working life on the road and has watched familiar landscapes turn barren.
"When you're going through the same places and communities on a weekly basis, you see how quickly things dry up and deteriorate quite drastically," Johnston told 10 daily.
"I've seen how widespread this drought is but also how scattered the relief has been in terms of rain."
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Johnston uses his time on the road to check in with his mates.
"It might be Jim, a mate I haven't seen for a couple of months or someone I went to school with who has gone back to the land," he said.
On Monday, as drought conditions drag on, the pair are urging other Aussies to do the same.
A lot of people think they're too busy or might tell themselves they'll call tomorrow.
It might not mean that much to you but setting aside five minutes to make the call can change someone's day or potentially even their life.
It's all part of a campaign Honner and Johnston kickstarted in 2014 while at university to paint "a positive picture" of their work on the land with city slickers.
"We wanted to try and close the gap between producer and consumer, the city and the bush, and try to push positive content about Australian agriculture," Johnston said.
The 'Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal' campaign soon spread on social media and now has over 55,000 followers on Instagram.
But the co-founders believe this kind of content has been lost in coverage of the drought that has dwindled in recent months.
For Honner, it has moved from "one extreme to the other".
"There was certainly a focus on the negative stories that sell headlines, which I feel is a shame," he said.
Farmers don't want you to feel sorry for them; they just want the public to know they're going through a tough time and that the industry needs support.
And often, a conversation can be worth much more.
"We're simply asking people to pick up the phone and let farmers, or anyone who is out on the land, know that we haven't forgotten about them, that things will get better," Johnston said.
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