Woolworths and Coles support drought-hit Aussie farmers

Woolworths this week announced its support of Rural Aid, in a partnership that will help double the charity’s existing capacity in the next 12 months.

The retailer says it has done this to support Australian farmers and rural communities affected by the drought.

Hundreds more farmers are set to benefit from the $1.5 million investment from Woolworths via Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale program. This supports farmers in need by delivering hay for cattle feed, as well as other essential items.

The support from Woolworths will also allow Rural Aid to increase its number of counsellors. The counsellors support farmers and their families affected by any mental-health issues that result from the drought.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said, “Our store teams in rural and regional areas, particularly in NSW and Queensland, have experienced first hand the impact the current drought is having on farming communities.

“Rural Aid has worked tirelessly over the past few years to help farmers affected by the drought. Our support will allow them to focus on increasing their delivery of much-needed livestock feed to farmers and other essentials as the drought continues to cause widespread impact to many communities.”

Rural Aid CEO Charles Alder said, “This year, we have received requests for assistance from over 700 farmers, with hundreds more desperately in need of our support, so we’re truly grateful for the partnership and commitment from Woolworths.

“This significant boost to funding will allow us at a minimum to double our current capacity to deliver essential supplies such as hay bales or food for families in farming communities affected by the drought.

“The support of Woolworths will also help provide a boost to much-needed mental-health services to rural and regional communities via our counsellor program. Our farmers need face-to-face conversations, not over the phone or via SMS, so having additional counsellors will allow us to build trust and respect through personal on-farm visits.”

Coles helps out too

Coles has since followed suit. It has pledged $5 million in grants and interest-free loans from its Nurture Fund to help farmers struggling with the drought.

It’s also launching a fundraising appeal in more than 800 supermarkets across Australia. The funds will help drought-affected families cover household expenses such as food, medical, electricity and water bills.

Coles Managing Director John Durkan said, “Many of our team members at stores in drought-affected communities have heard harrowing stories from customers about the impact of the drought.

“Our store teams in these communities have helped by collecting donations of non-perishable food or providing gift cards. But we wanted to take action at a national level to help more families facing hardship right now and to help farmers to combat drought in the future.”

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