Demand for hay takes off as drought and bushfire conditions bite

Biggenden farmer Betty on her property appreciates the support of Rural Aid.

Australian farmers are requesting donated hay at a phenomenal rate.

In the last month, farmers have contacted Rural Aid requesting more than $1 million of hay.

Rural Aid was bracing for another wave of requests as devastating bushfires continue to burn across more than 100 locations in Queensland and NSW.

Based on Rural Aid’s experience of the previous drought and the Black Summer bushfires of 2019, demand for hay will accelerate rapidly as conditions deteriorate.

“Rural Aid delivered $56 million of hay and other services over a two-year period between 2018-19 when drought and bushfire were ravaging the country,” chief executive officer John Warlters said.

“The drought has already arrived for thousands of farming families. Lower than average rainfall and higher than average temperatures and have plunged families back into financial and emotional turmoil.

“We are seeing that every day through the huge demand for our services and that’s ahead of the hot and dry summer forecast by the bureau.”

Mr Warlters said Rural Aid will need another huge and generous outpouring of support from the Australian community and business sector to meet the rapidly escalating demand for its services.

Australia’s most trusted rural charity is asking Australians to dig deep and rally together to help meet the significant challenge ahead.

You can buy a bale by visiting or calling 1300 327 624.

Queensland cattle producer Betty Johnson of Biggenden, this month received hay from Rural Aid.

“It’s a great service, it really is,” the 84-year-old said.

“It’s wonderful to get a bit of help when I really do need it. If you have a look at my property, there’s not a green speck anywhere.

“We’ve had no rain at all since about January which means that I’ve been feeding stock for ages. If you’re feeding stock, it costs money.”

Mr Warlters said Rural Aid was hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

“If the current dry is just the beginning – and that is what the experts are suggesting, then it is going to be an extraordinarily difficult time for our farmers.”

“Aside from the physical hardships of running a farm through drought and bushfire, we know the toll on mental health can be even greater. Recent studies have shown the average suicide rate in Australian farmers to be almost 59 per cent higher than the general population – the equivalent of one farmer taking their own life every 10 days.”