Record drought affects farmers and animals alike
As you’ve probably heard, many parts of Australia are currently experiencing a very serious drought, and have been for some time. Nearly all of NSW and almost two-thirds of Queensland are in or are affected by drought, with parts of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia also struggling through significant dry conditions. To put this in perspective, the only autumn on record drier than this one in Southern Australia was in 1902 during the Federation Drought – more than 100 years ago. Wet conditions are not expected to return until February or even March, meaning that many farmers are struggling to source and afford feed for their livestock, as extra demand pushes fodder prices up and depletes supplies across the country. The feed shortage in New South Wales has become so serious that the NSW Government is subsidising transport of hay from other states including Victoria, in turn causing sourcing and affordability issues for Victorian farmers as well.
What is the effect of the drought on the meat industry specifically?
As fodder becomes harder for farmers to source and afford, many are being forced to slaughter or sell their herd. Animals in poor condition are not able to be sold to meatworks, meaning that they must be sold at stockyards for a fraction of the price they were bought for. Obviously this is a huge blow to farmers’ livelihoods, many of whom are even being forced to sell their breeding cattle in the hopes of building their herds back up when the rains come. This is predicted to have flow on effects for the meat industry, as when conditions do improve, farmers will have to compete fiercely with meatworks for cattle to rebuild their herds. Australians love steak and lamb chops for our summer BBQs, which means extra consumer demand in these periods. Whether this demand can be met remains to be seen, and meat prices will likely increase.
What can we do to help?
This is something that affects all of us, so it’s important that we lend a hand, however it can sometimes be hard to know how exactly to help. The good news is there are a number of amazing Australian charity organisations doing great work on the ground to help our farmers. One of these is Buy A Bale, who provide fodder to farmers who can't feed their animals, as well as providing farming families with household essentials. The positive effects of Buy A Bale’s work are not only limited to farmers and their livestock:
"All donations to our drought assistance campaign have a four fold effect. Some hay is donated, some we buy, so we’re feeding a hay farmer and their family. Some of our truckies are donating their time and diesel, some loads we’re paying for, so we’re feeding truckies and their families. Donations towards our Farmers card inject immediate cash into the rural towns, city cash going bush. Finally what hay we deliver saves farmers cash that they can continue to spend on other items."
Buy A Bale are currently running a nationwide Parma For A Farmer campaign, which we are so excited to be a part of! From the 20th of August, we are donating $2 from every parma sold at Cannings for a whole month to help Buy A Bale’s incredible work.
Aussie farmers keep us alive, so let’s return the favour and stock up on parmas this month.
Buy a Bale, Daily Mail UK and The Australian: Nation Faces Worst Drought Since the 1960s. Image courtesy of BBC.