It’s all about the smiles … farmer Bree Knopke takes a break with her young son, Teddy, on Wednesday morning

October 26, 2023

Twenty-five South Burnett farming families had a reason to smile on Wednesday, thanks to a generous donation of hay organised by the Murgon Lions Club.

Lions Zone 4 chairman Peter Coombes, a member of the Murgon club, said he had been approached by some South Burnett residents – who preferred to remain anonymous – concerned about the well-being of some of their neighbours who had been affected by drought.

Peter said the South Burnett had faced its fair share of agricultural challenges over the years which had taken a toll on local families.

Technically, the South Burnett is not drought declared, but the lack of rain in recent months was starting to bite hard.

Peter said the anonymous residents had been providing a helping hand but had approached Lions to see if there was more that could be done.

He organised a special meeting of Lions District 201 Q4 – of which Zone 4 is a part – which voted on Sunday to authorise the expenditure.

Murgon Lions then arranged a B-double load of oaten hay from NSW, delivered by local business Gleich Contracting.

A drop-off point was organised in the Mt McEuen area for Wednesday morning.

The farmers and their families were invited to collect the much-needed bales of hay, as well as talk to Graham House representatives who had information about various supports available.

The South Burnett Suicide Prevention Working Group also provided bags of goodies.

Peter said the hay was important, but even more important was the social side of the day.

“One person was a little bit emotional about the social aspect,” Peter said.

“They’d been so busy just surviving lately that they hadn’t chance to look up, and be able to have a yarn.

“It was the social contact, and the fact that people cared.

“There was not much hay, but they walked away happier.”

Cr Kathy Duff provided cold drinks, which were also very welcome on a hot day.

Peter said the hay delivery – which cost about $20,000 all up – was a one-off but he encouraged farmers to make individual applications for drought relief via the Need for Feed Australia website, another Lions project.

[Photos supplied by Murgon Lions Club]

The team from Lions District 201 Q4 … Lions Zone 4 chair Peter Coombes, Disaster Management Team co-ordinator John Campbell and District Governor Jackie Scott
Paul Gleich and his driver Jim, from Gleich Contracting, at the weigh-in station before leaving to drop off hay to the collection point
The Gleich Contracting B-double left Wondai to drop hay out to a collection point for farmers to pick up on Wednesday
Lions District Governor Jackie Scott with some of the farmers’ children … Henry, Teddy and Sidney
Amanda Hiron, from Graham House, with farmer Ray Zischke
Alan Eagleson, who was helping to load the hay into farmers’ vehicles, with John Campbell (Lions)
Peter Coombes with Greg Geysing … Greg came down with his tractor to help Alan Eagleson load the hay bales
Peter Coombes, Alan Eagleson and Amanda Hiron during a quick lunch break on Wednesday
Volunteers Tina Torrens and Pat Eagleson having a few laughs
Bryon Blanch and his son Nick with Alan Eagleson in the tractor
Local farmers gathered at the the collection point in the Mt McEuen area

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Cr Kathy Duff at the hay day (Photo: SBRC)

South Burnett Regional Council voted unanimously at Wednesday’s general meeting to support BIEDO to form a South Burnett Drought Support Committee.

The committee will be made up of representatives from BIEDO and Council.

The purpose of the committee will be to  collect funds specifically to support farmers and businesses in the South Burnett adversely affected by drought.

BIEDO recently hosted a Disaster Resilience Roadshow in Kumbia and Murgon.

“These sessions highlighted the severity of the current dry weather on landholders and businesses in the region, and also that the previous support such as freight subsidies for water and fodder were no longer available,” Cr Duff said.

“I think a lot of farmers did not realise that this assistance had been removed.

“I know there is a real need to have support on the ground right now as this drought continues to bite.

“I have been approached by local service clubs wanting to donate specifically to the South Burnett.

“This committee would use any donated funds to purchase vouchers for fodder, fuel and drought supplies from local stores.

“When farmers are doing it tough, businesses are doing it tough, so we want to be able to support the small businesses as well.”

BIEDO will collaborate with GIVIT to ensure that donations to the South Burnett Drought Support Committee will be tax-deductible.




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