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Collaboration delivers hay to drought-stricken farmers

Farmers on the Western Downs were the first to receive much-needed fodder for their livestock through a joint relief effort by Ipswich City Council and Queensland Urban Utilities.

Each passing kilometre as the convoy heads west just gets drier and drier.

Within a few short hours the green hills surrounding Ipswich are replaced by a landscape peppered with rock and cactus.

More than 35 per cent of the Western Downs is still drought declared, including the town of Tara with a population of 2,297 at the last census.

The 80-odd bales loaded on four council trucks in this delivery are just a drop of what would be needed to get farmers in the region through the drought.

But it’s also a heartfelt way that the people of Ipswich City Council and Queensland Urban Utilities are reaching out to let farming families know they are not forgotten.

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This convoy of hay was delivered to two farming families at Tara who were nominated by Aussie Helpers, an organisation that helps keep people on their land.

Many people have destocked because of the drought. Both families who received the hay have kept cattle and sheep, taking the cattle out to graze on the roadside for a few hours each day to survive.

Massive sheds that should be full of hay are close to empty. It can make a big difference if a storm hits one property but misses another, and what rain does fall is soon stolen by the heat.

QUU has been growing vetiver grass at its sewage treatment plants in Toogoolawah and Boonah.

“When we discovered the vetiver grass could be used to feed livestock we knew this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” QUU spokesperson Michelle Cull said.

“We’re proud to support our rural community any way we can. We harvest the grass three to four times a year so it’s heart-warming to know it’s going to help our farmers.”

Council Acting CEO Charlie Dill said experienced staff had volunteered to drive council’s trucks and deliver hay direct to the farmers nominated by Aussie Helpers.

“We started our hay campaign earlier this year and have delivered almost 200 bales of hay,” he said.

“There has been an incredible response from the farming families we have been able to help so far. They have really been doing it tough and something like this means the world to them.

“To be able to combine our efforts with Queensland Urban Utilities is a golden opportunity to help even more farmers in need.”

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