Help farmers in the Upper and Lower Hunter battle the drought

Farmers across the Hunter are battling a crippling drought and they need your help to survive it.
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The Maitland Mercury,Newcastle Herald, Hunter Valley News and The Scone Advocate have joined forces with the charity Rural Aid and its Buy A Bale Campaignto help Hunter farmers as they fight to survive the dry conditions.

In the Upper Hunter the drought is so severe it is the worst in living memory. In the Lower Hunter it is as serious as the 1960s drought that turned farms into dust bowls.

There’s no feed in the paddocks and cattle are going hungry. Hay is scarce, water resources are in short supply and farmers are desperate for help to be able to stay afloat.

Group managing editor Newcastle-Hunter Chad Watson said four Fairfax Media mastheads had united to help make a difference.

Group managing editor Newcastle-Hunter Chad Watson WATER SHORTAGE: Dams on the Stork family property are in crisis. Four out of the five dams are empty.

DROUGHT: Farmer Danny Stork stands on the family property at Glen Oak pondering the landscape. Pictures: Belinda-Jane Davis

DRY TIMES: Brown grass everywhere.

CREEKS ARE DRY: Farmer Danny Stock in the creek bed that should be full of water.

CREEKS ARE DRY: Farmer Danny Stork in another dry creek bed.

DAM: A dam that is almost dry.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape at Glen Oak.

CREEKS ARE DRY: Another dry creek.

HOPE: Some green grass shoots among the dead grass. They will also die if there is no rain soon.

BROWN GRASS: Farm dogs take a stroll on the grass.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

VEGGIE GARDEN: Pumpkin crop is looking for water.

VEGGIE GARDEN: Pumpkin crop is looking for water.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: Corn crop looking miserable.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DRY TIMES: View of the landscape.

DAM SUPPLY: The water level in the dam has dropped significantly.

DAM SUPPLY: The water level in the dam has dropped significantly.

FOOD SHORTAGE: Cattle at Glen Oak.

FOOD SHORTAGE: Cattle step into the shade to cool down at Glen Oak.

FOOD SHORTAGE: Cattle step into the shade to cool down at Glen Oak.

DRY TIMES: Another dry creek bed.

DRY TIMES: Another dry creek bed.

DRY TIMES: Another dry creek bed.

DRY TIMES: View across the paddock at Glen Oak.

DRY TIMES: View across the paddock at Glen Oak.

DRY TIMES: Dry creek bed.

SHADE: Cattle sitting in the shade.

SHADE: Cattle sitting in the shade.

SHADE: Cattle in the shade.

DRY TIMES: Cattle are being fed with forage to survive.

DRY DAM: A dry dam at Glen Oak.

DRY DAM: A dry dam at Hinton.

WATER SHORTAGE: A dry lagoon between Phoenix Park and Largs.

Ron Campbell at his Merriwa property. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Merriwa, Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Belltrees, Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Ian McCallum is a fifth generation farmer from Moonan Flat in the Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Upper Hunter. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Blandford, Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Ron Campbell drives around his Merriwa property. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Simone McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Craig Murphy feeds hay to his stock at his Blandford property. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Ian MacCallum with the food required for his stock when there’s little to graze in the paddocks. Picture: Nick Bielby

Many of McCullys Gap’s Lyn Richards’ dams are diminishing, if not completely gone.

Recovering: Bunnan farmer David Wicks was rushed to hospital for heart surgery a few days before Christmas. He has sold his last calves. “It means this time next year I’m going to have no income,” he said. Picture: Simon McCarthy

TweetFacebookWe need the people and companies of the Hunter to get behind our work. We’re asking Hunter residents to help us buy the hay and water we need to supply.

Rural Aid CEO Charles AlderHow can you help?Donate to buy hay, water and groceriesClick here to make a donation that will help buy hay, water and groceries for farmers in need.

Funds raised for groceries will be used to buy gift cards at the farmer’s local supermarket. That way, the money raised in the Hunter will go back into the region’s economy.

Money put towards water will be spent locally while hay will be sourced from outside the Hunter and transported to farmers because ofa lack of supply in the region.

Go shopping for a farmerClick here to stock up on non-perishable food items for farmers –or buy some food for their pets –and take it to one of the drop off points.

Rural Aid will then distribute the items to farmers across the Upper and Lower Hunter.

The drop off points are Baileys of Greta,Melissa Mastin Stylz on Track in Paterson,Pokolbin General Store,Goldmans Produce in Cessnock,Kirkwood Produce Singleton andKirkwood Produce Rutherford.

Want to get involved at work?Pop money in a barrel, or help fill a hay truckTake on the challenge at work and see how far you can go.

Click here to register to receive a donation barrel.

Click here to ordera hay truck poster and gradually fill a load of hay for a farmer.

Businesses can also sponsor a truck load of hay. Sponsorship money will flow into the Hunter account and be put towards supplies.

Click here to sponsor a truck load of hay