TELANGATUK East farmers have rallied together to donate hay to a large-scale charity drive for fodder.
Farmers donated about 200 bales to the Need for Feed program on Friday.
The disaster-relief charity is run by the Lions Club, and helps struggling farmers with feed for their livestock after a bushfire.
Telangatuk East farmer Warren Blake said the district had already donated four truck loads of hay, with another two still to go.
“We had about 200 bales,” he said.
“It was really good that everyone got involved – I expected to get about 10 bales.”
Mr Blake said it was an important cause to get behind.
“We’ve been burnt out before and we know what it’s like,” he said.
“Every little bit of feed matters at times like that and it’s good for morale for everyone involved.
“It’s quite upsetting when you drop off some hay to someone who has nothing and they are in tears.
“The cause is well worth it.”
Mr Blake said he found out about the Need for Feed program after he saw a post on Facebook.
“A couple of years ago I had a heap of straw that I didn’t need and I’ve been involved in the cause ever since,” he said.
The program was started back in 2006 by Graham Cockerell, as a way to help farmers affected by the east Gippsland bushfires.
He said the program had grown significantly since, with 100 volunteers just a call away.
“Eleven years ago I gave away one truckload of hay, and I found out it was nowhere near enough,” he said.
“We’re well past a million dollars worth given away in that time.
“We’ve concentrated mainly on Victoria, but with the dairy farmers, we’ve done a bit into northern Tasmania with food vouchers.
“A lot of times you’ll get invited in for a cup of tea, and having a talk to them and showing somebody cares is just as important as helping them out.”
Mr Cockerell said last year, lots of the hay was donated to dairy farmers.
“Farmers are at the mercy of the weather and free markets, and dairy farmers faced a lot in 2016,” he said.
“If we don’t look after farmers, we’ll have to start buying food overseas.”
Need for Feed has previously provided disaster relief for the Ballarat region, with a convoy delivering more than 1000 bales of hay for victims of the Scotsburn fire in 2016.
After 4600 hectares of land in the Scotsburn region was razed to the ground, the program’s annual Australia Day convoy of utes and semi-trailers delivered stock feed to the victims of the fire, which destroyed at least 12 permanent residences.