Drought | Kangaroo Valley community shows huge support for dairy farmers

COMMUNITY CARES: Gavin Chittick on his dairy farm with Kangaroo Valley Agricultural Fund committee member Mark McLennan.
COMMUNITY CARES: Gavin Chittick on his dairy farm with Kangaroo Valley Agricultural Fund committee member Mark McLennan.

In just a few weeks, the Kangaroo Valley community has raised more than $30,000 for its drought-affected farmers. 

In August, the Kangaroo Valley Agricultural Fund was started as a way to support the town’s five dairy farms, which are struggling due to the rising costs of feed and production. 

Kangaroo Valley Agricultural Fund committee member Mark McLennan said the genoristy had been “amazing”. 

“In the short term we want to help out the valley’s five dairy farmers, which have been here for generations, while they’re doing it tough,” he said. 

“The farmers were reticent at first but I think they see now that people are willing to give and the help is there.” 

The fund is being run through Kangaroo Valley Lions Club, (not tax deductible), and has brought a real sense of community back to the valley, according to Mark. 

“Our long term agenda is to support agriculture, and any projects relating to that,” he said.

“But even just in the past month or so the community has really come together.” 

The agricultural fund committee is also planning to ask holiday homes and bed-and-breakfasts to add a drought levy to prices. 

“Every little bit helps,” Mark said. “And that is something that would really make a difference.” 

While last week’s rain did help Gavin’s paddocks, he said more still needed.

While last week’s rain did help Gavin’s paddocks, he said more still needed.

The committee has also started producing videos about the impact the drought is having on Kangaroo Valley’s farmers. 

“They’ve helped to educate the community about what’s really happening,” Mark said. 

“The social, financial and mental side of things, not just the farming.” 

Although the community has chipped in, the situation is still tough for dairy farmers like Gavin Chittick. 

“We’ve sold 44 cows this month and we’ve got another lot booked in to go next month so we can try and ease the pressure,” Gavin said. 

“The price of hay is at $500 a tonne now, [it was $350 a tonne in August] and we are spending more money than we are making.” 

While last week’s rain did help Gavin’s paddocks, he said more still needed. 

“It was good, it started things, it came at a good time and it’s soaked in,” he said. 

“Hopefully there’s more to come.” 

Gavin said the push for a 10c levy on each litre of milk to support farmers had given him some hope for the future. 

“If we can get a 10c increase on our milk that would make a huge difference,” he said. “It’s what we need.” 

How you can help  

Mark said the three main aims of the Kangaroo Valley Agricultural Fund, was to encourage the community to buy Dairy Farmers milk, as each of the valley’s farmers supply to the company, donate and support all fundraisers for farmers. 

If you’d like to donate to Kangaroo Valley Agricultural Fund, transfer to BSB: 633 000 ACC NUMBER: 139 378 632.