WHY do they do it?

Why do farmers from Bass Coast and South Gippsland cost themselves money to donate hay to those less fortunate. And why do the volunteer members of local Lions clubs and truck drivers pitch in to get the hay to the areas of need?

Why do they do it?

We asked the latest South Gippsland farmer to get involved in the ‘Need For Feed’ movement, Rob Prentice, a pea grower at Mirboo North, Thorpdale and Meeniyan to tell us.

“It’s mates helping mates. Farmers well aware of what other farmers are going through trying to offer some moral support more than anything,” said Rob last week as he watched hundreds of bales being loaded on trucks bound for the Port Macquarie, Kempsey area of the NSW north coast.

His hay filled five or six semi-trailers.

Scott Guy, a coordinator for Need For Feed, said upwards of 20 truckloads of hay would be sent north from the depot at Nar Nar Goon on the Queens Birthday Weekend.

“We’ve got donations coming from all over. Farmers from Dalyston, Bass, Woolamai and Korumburra have also called us to donate hay for this run and we could still do with some more,” said Scott.

“We could also use some donations towards the fuel costs. That’s all the truck drivers get. They donate their time and their trucks, and we just try to cover the cost of their fuel.

“A lot of this is down to the organisational support of Lions which is something we need to recognise.

“They’re still going to need our help for a few more months after the floods in NSW but this is an on-going thing. We’ve done floods, fire and drought since it started and the support we’ve received from the community has been fantastic.

“If anyone has got more hay to donate, they can make contact through the Need For Feed website.”

The ‘Need for Feed’ story

Since 2006 Need For Feed have been supporting communities and farmers across Victoria, and further afield in recent years.

In December 2006, founder Graham Cockerell, donated and delivered one truck load of hay which was distributed by Cowwar Toongabbie Lions Club to farmers burnt out in their area.

The problem was that it was only five small bales of hay for each farmer and Graham returned to his home disappointed rather than elated, determined to round up others to help make a difference.

Neighbor Barry Medwin, who lost his own wife and daughter in the 1983 Ash Wednesday Fires, donated the next semi load of hay and Graham’s hot rodding mate Doug Hamilton suggested a Bush Fire Benefit which raised $23.000.

A local paper played its part too, publishing a story on the events entitled ‘Need for feed’ and so the movement was born!

Every year since they have raised funds for fire, drought and flood relief.

Of course, thousands of bales of hay and thousands of truck transport kilometres have been donated since then for all manner of disaster and Lions clubs in the Bass Coast and South Gippsland areas, our farmers and truck drivers have all been involved.

You can still donate hay, and just as importantly money for truck fuel at https://www.needforfeed.org