Millions of people from across the globe have answered desperate calls for urgent help as Australia battles unprecedented bushfires - but another major national crisis has fallen by the wayside.
Despite drought affecting major land areas in similarly unparalleled proportions, national and international attention has been largely directed at the months-long fire crisis.
David Graham, who runs the Facebook page Farmer Dave, expressed this week how the drought “catastrophe” is “thousands of times worse than the bushfires”.
“Can you imagine what this slow horrendous drought must be like for the few incredible farmers and graziers that are on their own?,” he wrote to his page.
Having grown up on his family’s farm in Southwest Queensland, the now 40-year-old has watched as the land around him turned dry and barren as rainfall deficiencies continued to intensify.
He has now called on the public to turn their focus back to the approximate 100,000 Australian farmers battling to keep not only their stock, but their livelihoods.
“We’ve been opening up bunkers that we put down 30 years ago. We prepared for this drought 30 years back and we’re now on our last bunker. That feed is going to be used within the next month,” Mr Graham told Yahoo News Australia.
“By the end of February we’ll have absolutely no feed left. So 30 years of putting feed away, we’ve now used it over the last three-and-a-half years.”
Buying from Australian producers and spending money in towns that desperately need it is absolutely vital in helping rural communities survive beyond some of the driest periods on record, Mr Graham said.
“When you go to the butcher, supermarket or anywhere, buy lamb and beef, because those are the industries affected the most by drought,” he said.
“Farmers and graziers don’t want handouts or donations, what they want is to stay in business and stay on their land which they’re connected to in a way that few people can really understand.”
Mr Graham encouraged people to check the origin of other products they were buying in the supermarket, and ensuring things like their bread had ingredients from Australia.
He also asked that when getting out of the city for the weekend, people on the east coast packed an empty esky and headed west.
“Go to a country town, spend the night, go to the cinema, or to a local play. There’s festivals right across the country - just go and be part of the community.
“Spend a bit of extra money and fill up your esky on the way home, because it’s those towns that are suffering. Once those shops close their doors, they don’t reopen.”
Without much-needed public support, Mr Graham said the future of land occupied by farmers and their stock would be bleak and lifeless.
“If we lose these industries of beef and lamb and cropping, we have an area the size of Spain, Germany and France combined where it’s just going to turn into a wasteland.”
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