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Aussie farmer floored by the drought

Chris McCullough reports on the ongoing drought in Australia and how one farmer’s photo aims to raise funds to help other farmers facing poor mental health and financial ruin

They say a picture paints a thousand words and this one certainly does. Aussie cattle farmer Jason Wright battles a headful of emotions in front of his young son as he feeds their 1000 strong beef herd for another day.

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His head and body suffer from a mix of being physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, but he knows he must struggle on.

The cause is a culmination of years of drought at his Burrabogie Livestock and Contracting farm near the town of Hay in New South Wales.

Farmers across the country are being forced to haul fodder and any other feed they can get their hands on long distances to keep their cattle alive. For some, the harsh climate is too much and they have had to shoot dying cattle to put them out of their misery.

Sad to say, for some others, it’s not just the livestock they have contemplated shooting.
Mental health among these livestock farmers is suffering badly, as there’s no end to the drought in sight. Cattle are for sale so that farms can destock and save money on feed costs. Farms are for sale so that farmers can clear their heads, somewhat.

It was just another ordinary morning when Amber Wright took this photo of her partner Jason as they fed their cattle, just like they do every morning as the pastures that normally yield luscious green grass, are brown and bare. As emotions overcome Jason, he dropped to the floor to have a time out and regather his thoughts.

Amber says, “We run a cattle operation in central New South Wales and the drought has been going on for three years now. This has been a different drought, as it has been so widespread, which, in turn, has put huge pressure on fodder resources and has made feeding stock unviable.

“I’m not really sure what to say about the picture. We were just out on the morning feed run as we do every day. He was just physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

“It becomes hard day in and day out. However, sometimes, like that particular morning, it just gets too much even when the cattle are full and healthy. Jason just became totally overwhelmed.

“My partner has been farming for 35 years and never seen it so bad. Even though we are struggling, we aren’t the only ones and I want to help all farming families like ours,” she says.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Aussie farmers battle the dry spell. Amber says while everyone is struggling, her family is still one of the lucky ones as they still have each other.

“The purpose of the GoFundMe page is to help others who are struggling like us as we aren’t the only ones facing this drought.

“If my situation and picture can bring awareness and generate much-needed funds, I can then support many other farming families in need especially coming up to Christmas.

“There are so many farmers taking their own lives daily. There are so many challenges that we face each day that many people could never comprehend but we are the lucky ones as we still have each other.”

For those interested in helping raise funds for Aussie farmers, the GoFundMe page is gofundme.com/f/ub8kgy-help-australian-farmers.

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