Drought. The big dry.
Figures released last week by the NSW Department of Primary Industries show that all of NSW is now drought declared, and 60% of Queensland is also drought declared. Australia is a country of droughts and flooding rains, and in an extended blog post today, I've looked at the work that is being done, the wider conversation that is being had, the greater conversation that is needed.
Let us not forget that our farmers are resilient, innovative and incredibly optimistic. And it will rain!
What is being done?
If you'd like to know more about what is being done from a state and federal level to support farmers, NSW has DroughtHub, Queensland has the Long Paddock, and the Australian Government has more information via the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Each of these websites have links to further resources, contacts and Fact Sheets.
The ABC News, along with other media outlets, are providing good coverage on the drought - and looking at the broader issue. Remember, the drought doesn't start one day, and stop when it starts to rain. Unlike other natural disasters, droughts are slow moving beasts that creep in and linger longer. They stay for years, and the affects are felt everywhere from the local hairdresser to the machinery dealer in bigger towns.
There are also incredible work being down by long standing charities that continue to support farmers, rural communities and businesses. They have been around for a very long time, and you may be familiar with their work. Buy a Bale through Rural Aid has a been a long term drought charity and have also been the charity of choice for many drought fundraisers including #ParmaforaFarmer. Drought Angels, Aussie Helpers and Lions Need for Feed are another three charities doing incredible work with feet on ground in rural areas.
There are countless more! And I want to acknowledge the work new campaigns that come through conversations on social media and a desire to help. Of particular note - and an absolute heart warmer is - A Fiver for a Farmer - which came from a 10 year old. This campaign has reached over 550 schools and 90 preschools, and started a greater conversation. Which leads to the next part...
The wider conversation that is being had
Edwina Robertson, a wedding photographer from Toowoomba, started a drought awareness campaign called One Bucket (of hope) to share the personal stories of families and communities that are directly affected by drought. Eddy's campaign is also about education, about generating awareness in urban populations, and about putting a face to the drought. Eddy hopes to boost morale of rural communities, and raise financial assistance, but also provide insight to urban communities about the harsh realities about farming in Australia - it can be confronting, but it can also be inspiring, heart warming and hopeful.
I admire Eddy's story telling ability and beautiful photos. She has started a conversation, and told of the resilience of Australian farmers, rural businesses, and the communities that support them.
I look back at the Millennium Drought and reflect how things have changed this time around - a lot of that has to do with the power of social media and the ability for a community to come together online and support farmers who live hundreds of kilometres away. But we are also having broader conversations that were once saved for down at the pub or footy on Saturday. We are having a greater conversation about sustainability and resilience. A diverse conversation. A thought provoking conversation. A conversation where all are welcome, and all are participating.
Bryce Camm, Camm Agricultural Group, wrote an interesting article in Queensland Country Life about the need to have this conversation, and there to be greater action. And Joe Hildebrand, Studio 10, wrote an article on resilience and the flow on affect of drought. There are several more articles too.
The greater conversation that is needed
Little BRICK Pastoral has always been about celebrating Australian agriculture - which may be hard in time of drought and natural disaster. But this is where a greater conversation is needed. Not all of Australia is currently in drought, and Australia is a big country. We must continue to support our farmers, rural businesses and communities that are struggling, but we must also celebrate the excellence.
And let the ball continue rolling. A great conversation has started. It is time we continued this conversation - showcased the excellence, the resilience, the innovation, the hard work, and the passion that is Australian food and fibre production.
Let us all do our part to support our Australian farmers. To buy and support local produce. To celebrate and champion great Australian food and fibre. To showcase and share the success of others. And to continue a great, open and diverse conversation.
And... apologies for the hiatus - the oats are still holding up.
Little BRICK Pastoral celebrates Australian agriculture through unique photos of a Lego farmer.
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