How To Help Drought-Affected Farmers This Christmas

Never has your mince pie-making and Christmas-carolling been quite as important. 

It's safe to say the festive season has well and truly kicked into gear.

How do we know? Network Ten's Grant Denyer has released a Christmas track to help drough affected farmers, and it's making its way up the charts.

Months after media coverage of an enduring drought exposed the once-green pictures of bare hills and cracked earth, farmers across the country are still struggling.

In New South Wales, 99.7 percent of the state remains drought-affected, with 43.7 percent still in intense drought and a small 0.2 percent now recovering.

Moving north, just under 60 percent of Queensland is in the same boat.

Image: NSW Department of Primary Industries

"What we have seen this season is an impact largely on grain production as well as livestock," CEO of the National Farmers Federation Tony Mahar told 10 daily. 

READ MORE: How You Can Help Drought-Stricken Farmers

"The winter cereal crops -- wheat, barley, canola and oil seed crops -- will all be down along with like chickpeas and lupin." 

"That has flow on effects for sectors like chicken meat production, pork or even in some cases seafood, where there is mixed feed which can include cereals and oil seeds."

Despite a downturn in crops, it's a busy time for summer fruit and vegetable growers who are in the middle of harvest season.

Some farmers have received recent rains, but it's hasn't been drought-breaking. Image: AAP

Some areas have had a recent reprieve, with an isolated rain event dropping a month's worth of rain in an hour across eastern parts of NSW last week.

So, how can we help this Christmas?

Donate To Registered Charities

Thanks to many public appeals, from Rural Aid's Buy a BaleParma for a Farmer, and Drought Angels, plus some government assistance, help has slowly been getting to those who need it.

"The charities have done and continue to do some amazing work in these rural communities," said Mahar.

"Where there is an opportunity, I'd encourage everyone to continue donating to them. They do a great job on the ground."

For months, charities have been sourcing feed for desperate farmers. Image: Dilly Drought Drive Facebook

Registered charities such as Lions Need For Feed -- that distribute water and fodder directly to farmers -- are holding their own Christmas collections and fundraisers.

And they're spreading the Christmas cheer.

Rural Aid is calling on Aussies to send in a handmade Christmas cards that will be distributed by post. All cards must be at its Brisbane Office by Monday December 10.

Or, you can purchase Grant Denyer's tune 'Riding Home For Christmas' on iTunes,with all the proceeds going directly to Rural Aid.

Here are some other ways to chime in.

Buy A Locally-Made Christmas Lunch

Think about your Christmas lunch plate and where you're produce is coming from.

"The other important way consumers can help farmers is to continue buying Australian branded products, particularly at this time of year," Mahar said.

While it heats up, there are some obvious choices: dairy products such as ice cream, cream and custard (to go with your hefty slice of pudding).

While we're on the topic of pudding ... buy local dried fruit or cherries.

Dried fruit Check. Custard? Check.
Stop In At A Country Town

If you're heading out on a road trip these holidays, stop into a country town.

"It's some of the regional communities that will suffer from the downturn, so they can also use some assistance as well," Mahar said.

READ MORE: How Your Holiday Can Help Drought-Affected Farmers

Contact the author: ebrancatisano@networkten.com.au

Featured image: Getty