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Truckies come together to help flood victims

In just under two weeks, a group of truckies will arrive in Lismore as part of a charity run to help flood-affected small farmers and hobby farmers who have missed out on the major grants.

Aussies Lead for Farmers Feed was the brainchild of Sarah Booth, who together with her husband Steve Booth, wanted to do something to assist the smaller scale farmers around the Lismore area who have been doing it tough as a result of the recent floods.

The project is being overseen by Disaster Recovery Sheds & Assistance Inc-DRSA.

Based in the small town of Wyrallah, NSW, not far from Lismore – one of the area’s hardest hit by recent flooding – Booth, 37, isn’t a farmer herself but has seen the sheer devastation firsthand.

“When the floods happened, we had to get my father-in-law out of his house or he wouldn’t have survived. I spent all night awake and all you could hear were cows and horses screaming – and they were harrowing screams,” explained Booth.

“I took my son to Beef Week at Casino and on the way out, all you could see was cattle standing in mud. There was the odd patch of green but it was all really waterlogged.

“I wanted to do something so I picked up the phone and called Yogi to tell him what I wanted to do and he said yes and gave me some contacts to call.”

Truckies leading the charge are Yogi Kendall from Kendall Trucking & Co (who many will recognise from Outback Truckers), Adam Meek from Meek Transport and Kellie Boland from Boland Transport.

Despite the project being just a few months old, Aussies Lead for Farmers Feed already has 55 small farming families registered for support. “There’s maybe one or two with over 30 head of cattle, the rest are all under that. I understand that primary producers are important but the smaller farmers also support the industry too and they can’t be forgotten about either,” Booth added.

“Kellie Boland from Boland Transport has been amazing and is getting together a huge amount of feed for cattle, goats, chickens and dogs.

“And Adam Meek was on board within seconds. Due to his history, he’s been able to help me a lot,” said Booth.

As well as his trucking experience, Meek has a history of doing a lot of charity work too, so he and Booth bounced some ideas off each other to get the ball rolling. The charity run is now due to arrive at the Lismore Saleyards on July 16.

“She had an idea that she wanted to do something to help hobby farmers because they get left behind. Even though they’re just as affected as primary producers, because they don’t derive income from primary production, they don’t get much help,” said Meek.

“Out in those areas, the hobby farmers outnumber the primary producers. They’ve still lost the stock, lost their properties. There are grants on offer but for some of these they’ve got to prove $20,000 worth of primary producer income, which a lot of them don’t do.”

Based in Ballarat, 35-year-old Meek is a father of six who began driving trucks when he was 18. At 25, following a nervous breakdown, he gave it up completely. It took 10 years for him to get back behind the wheel – which only happened late last year.

After a few months working with K&S Freighters, he decided to go out on his own as an owner operator. He purchased a Kenworth T609 with a stag set of tippers, which he uses to cart grain and fertiliser throughout Victoria and southern NSW.

“My son Noah was born at the end of March so I took some time off from K&S. To fill in time I carted lime and stuff for my father-in-law. He’s been trying to get me to go into business with him for a few years with this truck and he asked me again. I spoke to my wife, the accountant and had a chat with a few mates, and now here we are,” explained Meek.

“It’s good – I’m enjoying it, we’re making more than we’re spending but fuel is a killer, so is rego and insurance. Unfortunately though, they are necessary evils. Fuel with the way it is, I’m paying 30 cents a litre more than we were at the end of March and now we have no fuel tax credits, which really hurts. But we’re doing what we do best and that’s head down, bum up and keep on moving. The companies I subby for are good and the rates are good so I can’t complain,” he said.

While the smaller flood-affected farmers haven’t been able to gain a great deal in the way of financial assistance, it has also hindered Aussies Lead for Farmers Feed’s ability to obtain grants to help cover the costs of fuel for the truckies taking part in the charity run.

Booth is now in the process of trying to secure fuel sponsors so that more trucks are able to take part. “I have another four trucks who were interested but couldn’t do it due to the costs. They want to donate their time and truck but need a little help from the government or a fuel sponsor. At the moment, I have a load sitting at Goondiwindi that needs to be picked up, but I can’t get them a truck,” she said.

Meek was lucky enough to have his fuel supplier come to the party. “I reached out to my fuel rep at Riordan Fuels and they’ve come to the party for my truck and donated $1000 of fuel to get me up there. As far as the other guys, we’re hoping to find a way to get their fuel covered too. If it wasn’t for Riordan, I wouldn’t be able to afford to do this run,” he explained.

For more information on Aussies Lead for Farmers Feed, visit the Facebook by clicking here.

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