As the current flood emergency continues to wreak havoc, Need For Feed volunteers have already hit the road to deliver hay to some of the farmers who need it most.
A convoy of 13 trucks set off this afternoon, bound for the Lismore and Casino areas. When Big Rigs spoke to Need For Feed founder Graham Cockerell, he was behind the wheel of his 2007 Western Star.
“I’ve just hit the Hume in Benalla and will arrive at Jugiong on the Old Hume Highway tonight at around 8pm. We’ll stop at the Jugiong Roadhouse Café for a feed. Nick in the kitchen there is a bloody legend,” said Cockerell.
He says the hay run has been pulled together in just a few days, with a second run planned for Victoria’s Labour Day long weekend next week.
“We’ll get to Urunga near Coffs Harbour by tomorrow night. Then we’ll head through to Casino and Lismore on Sunday morning to drop off hay to farms around there. We can’t get to all the farms due to the water but we’re visiting about 10 of them,” said Cockerell.
“The area is mainly dairy farms. In Lismore, one farmer had his whole herd of cows washed away so it’s pretty bad. The flood there was 2-3 metres higher than previous records.”
With hay donations flooding in from all around Victoria, NSW and even some parts of Queensland, Cockerell says he’s hoping to get 30-40 trucks involved in next week’s hay run.
“We have the hay to accommodate that many trucks. Hay donations have picked right up since we advertised for it the other day. We are hoping to get into Queensland next week too.
“We were hoping to get there this week but we couldn’t – the Pacific Highway is cut off between Coffs Harbour and Ballina in about six places so we’re going to head through Grafton instead.”
Cockerell says he’s proud of the Need For Feed team for being able to organise the two hay runs so quickly. “All the plans are in place for next weekend too. If we can, we will probably take an inland route and pick up a few more trucks along the way from further across in NSW.”
On this run, Cockerell also has some extra passengers – his two kelpies. “For the younger one, this will be her longest ride yet. The other one is five and she’s been coming with me for years,” he said.