News

Help for farmers is coming from a local farmer

By Charmayne Allison

AS a farmer, Leanne McCallum knows, all too well, the devastating effects of a drought.

She knows what it’s like to sow 2000 acres of crop in the winter — and reap nothing in the summer.

And as a social worker of 20 years, she’s seen up close the despair a farmer feels when, year after year, the weather is against them.

And she knows the solution isn’t easy.

It’s not as simple as selling the family farm and finding a new job.

Because farming isn’t just an occupation — it’s in the blood.

‘‘It’s so awful when we hear people say farmers should just sell and do something else,’’ Leanne said.

‘‘Because farming is a culture, not an occupation. It’s who we are, not what we do.

‘‘And I’ve seen farmers do everything right, putting crops in at the right time, at the right depth. And then to sit back and not get rain is just heartbreaking.

‘‘And while farmers are known for whingeing about the weather, we’re really not good at asking for help.’’

Which is why Leanne is stepping in.

Together with fellow Echuca Regional Health social workers, Leanne is organising hampers for farmers in the drought-stricken New South Wales town of Condobolin.

‘‘I just wanted to help a small farming community that is doing it tough and doesn’t have the resources large towns do,’’ she said.

By the end of the month, Leanne is hoping to fill a trailer with hampers to be delivered to the town.

But she needs your help.

‘‘If people could donate non-perishables such as food and toiletries, that would be incredible,’’ she said.

And Leanne said locals could help farmers in another, very simple way.

‘‘Just be there,’’ she said.

‘‘Farmers won’t tell you if they’re struggling. It’s rare for a farmer to say, ‘I’m not coping now’.

‘‘But it’s just important to be aware, say a friendly hello and start a conversation so they know they’re never alone.’’

Donated items should be dropped at the Riv office or at the ERH consulting suites on Francis St before August 23.