By Evelyn Leckie
TRUCK loads of hay bales from Whittlesea have been sent to bushfire affected areas in Victoria to assist farmers struggling to feed their surviving livestock.
It’s a favour the Whittlesea area are returning to fellow farmers after the generous support they received following the 2009 bushfires that severely affected the Kinglake area.
In the past few weeks, farmers nearby Whittlesea have donated anywhere from two to 40 hay rolls at a time.
Last Friday the fifth truck load of fodder drove to north-east Victoria, delivering feed straight to famers’ doorsteps.
Whittlesea Agriculture Society member Judy Clements said about 30 community members volunteered to co-ordinate the donations, load hay bales on trucks and drive the fodder to farmers in need.
“We dropped a load off to a family yesterday near the NSW border,” Ms Clements said.
“The farmer managed to save their house and shed with great challenge, but every part of their 900-acre farm was burnt and all their fences were lost.
“They saved their livestock, but the property down the road lost a few hundred head of cattle.
“The farmers have been quite emotional during the deliveries – they were pleased to see us arrive and were overwhelmed by the generosity.”
The Whittlesea Agriculture Society have been working closely with the Victorian Farmers Federation based in Corryong, an area which was hit hard by the bushfires.
“The federation have a register of farms reporting to them – so we’re sending the loads as directed,” Ms Clements said.
“We’re particular about making sure they’re making their way to the places of greatest need.”
Ms Clements, who is also a livestock farmer, said people have stopped, cheered and clapped as the trucks loaded with hay pass through towns leading to the north-east.
“I think Victorians all know where these trucks are heading, it’s been an emotional journey,” she said.
“Farmers are pretty determined people – the farmers we’ve seen were optimistic and they’re already getting back to work – it’s just going to be one step at a time.”