The North Coast Drought Assistance Group has been formed to help farmers out west. Pictured (back row) is Ray Payne, Matt Bidner, Austin Curtin, Tenterfield Shire mayor Peter Petty, Ben Sullivan, Bob Jurd, (front row) Sarah Smith, Casey Curtis and Sandra Sullivan.
The North Coast Drought Assistance Group has been formed to help farmers out west. Pictured (back row) is Ray Payne, Matt Bidner, Austin Curtin, Tenterfield Shire mayor Peter Petty, Ben Sullivan, Bob Jurd, (front row) Sarah Smith, Casey Curtis and Sandra Sullivan. Sophie Moeller

North Coast groups gather for farmers out west

WHAT started with a couple of phone calls became a meeting and will soon be a convoy of trucks to take bales of hay out west.

Lismore's state candidate for the National Party, Austin Curtin, was thinking on his feet when he called a meeting on Monday night as people gathered for Q&A at City Hall.

As a result the Tenterfield Shire mayor, Peter Petty, was able to meet with some local truck drivers, Lismore Toyota's "drought angels” and some farmers willing to donate bales of hay to form what is loosely coming together as the North Coast Drought Assistance Group.

"Our meeting was about bringing individual North Coast groups together. Groups that are all trying to make a difference with drought assistance. We want collaboration but, more particularly, to connect with our neighbours in Tenterfield who are doing it tough. I am grateful the Tenterfield Shire Mayor Peter Petty made the effort to come in person to listen and discuss where assistance is most needed, " said Mr Curtin.

While Mr Petty said farmers east of the ranges were faring all right, the land south and to the west "was as bad as any.”

"Providing resources to those who were willing to help the farmers out west was the least council could do,” he said.

The group is now looking to manage haulage using their networks to get "reliable produce to those who need it.”

Truck driver, Matt Bidner, said he had a convoy of trucks ready to go and was talking to his network about accessing hay bales.

"This is not just about cattle and sheep but a fellow human not killing himself,” he said.

Casey Curtis said their Toyota sponsored Appeal, Drought Angels, had been inundated with food and the offer of services but acknowledged fodder was the crucial need. If you have bales for Tenterfield contact Austin.Curtin@nsw

nationals.org.au.