The power of cards

Bianca Tarrant and Dave McGiveron were grateful to receive a Christmas card from school children in Brisbane, organised by Rural Aid, when they were experiencing severe drought and bushfires. Pictures: CONTRIBUTED

Rural Aid’s 2024 Mates Day campaign is all about recognising the hard work of Aussie farmers, and sometimes all it takes is a Christmas card.

Not your traditional multi-generational beef farmers, Bianca Tarrant and Dave McGiveron saved up to purchase their 519-hectare beef cattle property in Baryulgil, Northern New South Wales and were battling one of the worst droughts in Australian history when a delivery coordinated by Rural Aid gave them a much-needed boost.

“We got a Christmas card in the mail from a group of school kids in the city saying how thankful they were for everything we do to produce their food,” Bianca said.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re in the thick of drought and fires and everything else, to receive those messages from kids we’d never met before just blew us away. When times are tough it’s easy to think you’re alone and that no one else understands what you’re going through.

“Often people want to support farmers but they don’t know how, so it’s really important that organisations like Rural Aid are bringing awareness of farming and regional Australia to those in the city, and giving them ways to help out.”

After almost 10 years of operation, Australia’s most trusted rural charity has launched its major annual fundraiser, Mates Day, for 2024, highlighting that ‘Every plate tells a story’.

All donations from the campaign will ensure the ongoing provision of critical economic and empathetic assistance to farmers, including the Rural Aid national mental health and wellbeing program.

Rural Aid chief executive officer John Warlters said it was an important time to celebrate Australian farmers.

“Every plate tells a story because the food on it speaks to us about the freshness, the trust and confidence we can have that the food on our plates is nutritious and healthy – it’s the world’s best,” John said.

“Rural Aid provides farmers and their families a hand up. We don’t provide them with a handout as such, but rather a handup at a moment in time when they need it.

“It makes a life-changing difference for them and gives them the encouragement to continue to do what they do – and we’re all beneficiaries of this amazing work.”

Bianca said understanding where food comes from was one of the most impactful ways the wider public could help support farmers.

“Everything that people eat every day has come from a farm somewhere,” she said.

“From the meat to the fruit and the veggies, everything we put on our plate every night is there thanks to a lot of work behind the scenes.

“It’s pretty rewarding being a farmer, but it is very challenging to know that the whole food system relies on us at the end of the day to be able to continue to produce food.”

While recovering from losing more than 70 percent of their farmland during the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires, Bianca and Dave decided to start selling their produce over Facebook, which led to the creation of Our Cow – a subscription service that delivers beef, pork, lamb, chicken and seafood direct to households, helping to connect local farms directly with consumers.

Dave said they now have more than 100 farmers from across Australia supplying produce to Our Cow.

“Farmers are really good at banding together. Whether it’s during droughts, floods or fires, or just battling the everyday stressors of the job, I’m proud to be part of a community of producers who have each other’s backs to get through the challenges,” Dave said.

“Our whole livelihoods depend on the weather, a lot of which is out of our control. You’re always watching the forecasts and making business decisions based on that. It’s like playing the stock market but with a force of nature you just can’t predict.”

Dave said Mates Day was a timely reminder for consumers to stop and think about where their food comes from.

“Sometimes it can take three years before we make an income out of one animal on our farm,” he said.

“Crop farmers will plant something in the ground and not get any money from it for another 12 months. This campaign is about just taking the time to think about the endless dedication and effort that has gone into what’s on your plate.

“There’s so much fluctuation in a farmer’s life, from natural disasters to economic pressures, so we’d love for people to dig deep and get behind Rural Aid because farmers all around Australia need all the support we can get.”

To support Rural Aid’s Mates Day Campaign or to make a donation, visit All donations received will contribute to the important work Rural Aid is undertaking in rural and regional communities and supporting Australian farmers.