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Low prices and low rainfall prompts ‘SOS’ for Orroroo Farmers

Abbie Tiller

Mid North farmers unite in a show of mateship

Sheep graziers in the Upper Mid North region of Orroroo are facing the “perfect storm”.  Dry conditions and shockingly low stock prices are forcing farmers to make the heartbreaking decision between destroying their sheep or sending themselves broke feeding stock that are “worthless”.

But to ease the on-going pressure leading up to Christmas, neighbouring farmers from Georgetown and Laura have come together and devised a plan to help their mates out, with a heartening initiative called “Share our Stockfeed (SOS)”. And they’re reaching out to see if you can help.

On December 20, a convoy of trucks, loaded with feed, will leave Laura bound for property’s around Orroroo and North of the drought-prone Goyder’s Line.

Since putting out the call for help, generous donations of barley straw, old-seasons hay and grain have been offered. Tireless truckies and fellow farmers have put their hands up to join the SOS convoy. But it still all comes at a cost – exorbitant fuel prices being the big clincher.

“The truck drivers are donating their time and equipment and it would be nice to be able to chip in so they don’t have to wear the fuel costs as well,” said Phil Day from Georgetown Community Development Association (CDA).

Twenty Orroroo farmers have taken up the generous offer of support, including Grant Chapman, who said the feed situation was “pretty dire”.

“We had three drought years and then a wet spring last year, but the 200 millimetres of rain this year has all fallen out of the growing season,” he said. This included 25 to 30 millimetres in the most recent Spring deluge.

Low Lamb prices force farmers’ heartbreak

And while farmers in marginal country are adapt to drier conditions, nothing could have prepared them for this year’s plummeting lamb prices. Soon after they had restocked following a three-year drought, the sheep they purchased became worthless.

Like many stock owners, David Humphris, also a member of Georgetown CDA, has a lot of questions about the live sheep prices versus store meat prices. “For Farmers to be considering digging a hole and shooting them, and consumers still to be paying a high price at the big Supermarkets, something’s not right,” he said.

While prices have improved in recent weeks due to good rain in the Eastern states, in September prices fell to as low as $2 a head, with some sheep making the costly turnaround back to the paddock after not attracting a buyer.

Go Fund Me to help get trucks on the road to Orroroo

“While we may not be able to share rain, we can certainly share stock feed and extend a hand of friendship in the face of drought.” David said.

And it’s not the first time this pro-active group of concerned neighbours have united to help out their mates. In 2020 they rallied support to deliver vital fodder to farmers struggling with drought conditions in the Orroroo district.

A Go Fund Me page has been established to help get trucks on the road to Orroroo. Funds will go towards fuel and other costs required for loader and truck drivers donating their time and vehicles for the SOS run.

With some assistance from Northern and Yorke Landscape Board, a BBQ will be held as a token of appreciation when the trucks come together, and livestock owners will be given assistance and advice on animal nutrition and how to best get their stock through the coming weeks and months.

Mr Humphris said “This event is not just about providing essential feed,  it also about fostering mateship and unity during this challenging time.”

To make a donation click here




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