Helping farmers better manage their farm assets

Rural Aid's Tracy and Charles Alder. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Rural Aid's Tracy and Charles Alder. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

The speed and intensity with which the drought has hit New South Wales has been crippling, says Rural Aid founder Charles Alder.

Mr Alder, who formed the charity in 2015, hopes farmers can be better educated to manage their assets so that when the drought does break they can get back to where they were prior to these dry times.

The success of Rural Aid came on the back of the Buy A Bale campaign, which Mr Alder also formed.

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Mr Alder said farmers are facing a dire situation across NSW, with the price of carting feed costing farmers thousands of dollars and in some cases it being almost impossible to find this feed at a reasonable price.

“Long-term we’ve got to try and find ways of helping farmers better manage their assets, in terms of not only just their farm but also how they can protect their herds…,” he said.

Mr Alder said while a lot of farmers are hoping for feed, they want to keep their stock levels up.

“The challenge many face is that even though they’re keeping their stock alive today, they’re realistically not going to get any grain or feed on their properties for the next two to three months,” he said.

“We’re now talking winter and if it really starts to snap cold, no grass is going to grow so they're going to have to feed for the next two to three months and the problem is with hay stocks diminishing rapidly across the country they might get feed today but they wont get feed next month.

“So do they have to make the decision today to destock and therefore not require the hay today or next month or do they buy (hay) this month and next month and put themselves into more debt, to keep their stock going?”

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Mr Alder encourages farmers to think about storing their gene pool every day of the week.

“Take some samples, put them in the freezer, protect your assets,” he urged.

“When the drought breaks… and your pastures have had time to regrow and you’ve been able to do some fencing… then get some more cattle, do some artificial insemination and get back to where you were prior to the drought”

Mr Alder said he doesn’t think many farmers are thinking this way.

“They’re just thinking they’ve got cattle on the farm today and they’ll keep feeding them, but… we’ve got to help farmers be smarter about their gene pool,” he said.

“You cant grow cattle or sheep overnight but you can protect your gene pool.

“And that’s the reason why all these farmers keep their sheep and cattle because they want their gene pool.”

Mr Alder said farmers can’t just keep feeding with the way prices are.

“Some farmers are spending $100,000 a month on feed. You only need a few months like that and you’re broke, you’re gone,” he said.

Rural Aid are currently moving trucks with hay into NSW from Queensland and Victoria.

“Since February we’ve moved 130 truck loads of hay into NSW alone,” Mr Alder said.

“We’ve started to move hay into the Binnaway, Coonabarabran area in the last two weeks, some west of Dubbo last week and we’ll probably move some into north western NSW in the next two weeks.”