Rural Business Tasmania’s Rural Relief Fund helped Tasmanian farmers with crisis relief during the 2016 floods and then afterwards with ongoing counselling support.
The fund was reopened earlier this year to help Victorian farmers affected by bushfires – and again this month to support farmers in drought-stricken communities in mainland Australia and on Tasmania’s East Coast.
Since it has been reopened Rural Business Tasmania has received $250 in bank deposits, a number of PayPal donations and a commitment from Tasmanian Zap Fitness businesses to donate 40 per cent of sign-up fees to the Rural Relief Fund, chief executive Elizabeth Skirving said.
“We’re building it back up now as we start to see some dry areas. There will always be farmers who are doing it tough,” Ms Skirving said.
Despite farmers planning ahead with extra feed, selling stock and managing risk, difficulties can still arise.
“It’s the exceptions – people can cope with a certain amount, but [can run into trouble] because it goes on for so long,” she said.
“Help is there if needed.”
The best way to support farmers struggling during the drought is through cash donations or supermarket gift cards because that enables the recipient to buy exactly what they need.
“They know best what they need. They can ask us to pay the fuel bill or pay for the groceries,” Ms Skirving said.
“Bales are great, but you have to think what would you do if you were the recipient.”
Donations to the Rural Relief Fund can be made specifically for Tasmanian or national support and the organisation will distribute.
“At least 90 per cent [of money donated] goes directly to farmers,” Ms Skirving said.
Rural Business Tasmania also supports farmers with counselling, financial planning, debt minimisation services and helping to fill in Farm Household Allowance applications.
The organisation has three full-time counsellors and two other support staff to assist throughout the state where needed.
“We’re all connected to farming and we’ve been through the floods and the heart-wrenching times,” she said.
Find out more about the Rural Relief Fund and donate at www.ruralbusinesstasmania.org.au or send IGA gift cards to Rural Business Tasmania at PO Box 322, Launceston, TAS 7250.