Mitta's hay delivery to struggling Bega Valley farmers an act of 'humbling generosity’

Drivers Russell Wood and Jon Green arrive as part of a three-truck delivery of donated hay from Mitta Valley for cattle farmers in the Bega Valley.
Drivers Russell Wood and Jon Green arrive as part of a three-truck delivery of donated hay from Mitta Valley for cattle farmers in the Bega Valley.

Cross-border generosity has caused a few tear tracks on tired dusty faces this week.

Three truckloads of fodder and a generous financial donation arrived in the Bega Valley on Saturday thanks to new-found friends in the Mitta Valley.

The hay and silage was all donated by farmers and families in the north-eastern Victoria region after they saw the plight of Bega Valley farmers struggling in the drought conditions.

Those who didn't have hay of their own chipped in with funds to a special drought appeal account set up by the Bendigo Bank.

Incredibly, given it's not that large a region, a Father's Day event at the Dartmouth pub raised more than $10,000 to also be used to assist the drought-ravaged cattle farmers.

Producers from the Mitta Valley Beef co-op visited the Bega Valley recently to assist the Bega Beef Co-operative with marketing ideas, but went home thinking “we could help these farmers and communities out" with a hay drive and a community fundraiser.

The recent bushfires in the area reinforced the idea that action was needed.

“The whole thing is an incredibly humbling experience because of the level of this generosity,” Bega Beef Co-op chairman Col Pilkington said on Saturday in Bemboka as the trucks made their way into town.

“We can't help everyone, but this will give a bit of relief for some and their families, to give them a brief respite so they can reassess their stock welfare and position without worrying about feed for a short while.

“There's still a long-term challenge, but I believe that's what the co-op, at its heart, is about.”

Several of the recipients of the Mitta Valley donation were on hand Saturday to see the three large trucks arrive with an increasingly scarce commodity on board.

“It's a blessing this is,” one of them said. “Especially as we're calving at the moment, I've lost head due to the conditions.

“I can't think that they'd be much better off [in Mitta Valley], but they are helping however they can.”

Another local farmer simply said “it’s everything”.

The truck drivers – from Reece Murray Transport and AR Wood Contracting – had also donated their time to bring the loads across the border, assisted with funds donated towards the transport costs by Bega Cheese.

Russell Wood and Jono Green said they were more than willing to lend a hand knowing the situation facing many farmers both here and in their own regions.

They praised the “fantastic generosity” of the Mitta Valley community and in particular John Scales from their local co-op who coordinated much of the effort with his Bega Valley counterparts.

Mr Green has also driven a couple of runs with the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners so he has seen the incredible struggles many primary producers face in the current climate.

Mr Wood added that they were both from a farming background as well.

“We understand the struggles so why wouldn’t you help?”he said.

Generous community

Mitta Valley Beef Co-op organised and managed the logistics required to store, unload and transport the fodder. Instrumental were John and Robyn Scanes.

Dartmouth Angling Club and the Dartmouth Progress Association ran the fundraiser held at the Dartmouth pub.

Auction items included helicopter spraying, fertiliser, drill bits, holidays and household furniture, and storyteller Ken Jones drove all the way from Bendigo to entertain the crowd.

Two local farmers stored the donated hay in their sheds over the last few weeks and assisted in loading the trucks bound for Bemboka and Cobargo.    

Truck companies AR Wood Contracting and Reece Murray Transport. Bega Cheese donated towards the transport costs.

Others given a shout-out include Chris Peters and the Granite Flat Pastoral Company, Bob Wild, Alec Cardwell, Terry and John Cardwell, Shane Tobin, Gary Smith, Hugh Giltrap, Robert Bethune.