SUZIE JACOBS knows what it’s like to struggle.
She also knows what it’s like to come out the other side of adversity and move forward, even if it is only a step at a time.
Suzie has just taken on the role of community representative for Rural Aid and will be travelling the state calling in on farmers and rural communities, offering help through Rural Aid’s services which include Buy a Bale, Farm Army, Farm Rescue and counselling services.
“I can see farmers struggling. Some won’t ask for help, while others don’t know what help is out there; I know because I used to be one of them myself,” Ms Jacobs said.
When Ms Jacobs along with her husband Marshal bought their own farm at Ballendella and began a career in the dairy industry seven years ago, she had no idea of the hardships they would endure.
Droughts, floods, low milk prices, high inputs, clawbacks and selling their beloved Jersey herd.
Not to mention stress, fatigue and a loss of identity.
But amongst the negativity there have been times of real joy and happiness.
When the family was nominated for a ‘farm rescue’ by the farming charity Rural Aid the couple was blown away by the kindness of others.
They were fortunate to get a shed lined to create a sleeping space for their eldest son.
“To be a recipient for a farm rescue really lifted a black cloud for us. It was totally amazing to see such lovely people volunteer to help us,” Ms Jacobs said.
“We didn’t realise how isolated we had become as things got tougher and tougher and it really lifted our spirits and made us feel blessed with everything we had.”
As things on the farm became tougher, the couple made the hard decision to sell what was left of their milking herd.
“We went through a real grieving process when we sold the herd. We were no longer dairy farmers and we didn’t know who we were anymore; we have had to redefine ourselves.”
And for Ms Jacobs this has been taking on the community representative role after she was approached by the charity.
“So many people are leaving the industry, they are stressed and fatigued and many are at the end of their tether but Rural Aid can provide some real help and options.”
Rural Aid was established in 2013 beginning with the Buy a Bale campaign — a simple concept where Australians donated funds to purchase hay and truckies delivered the hay, leaving farmers with their own funds to purchase essential household items.
This program now provides assistance for drought, fire and flood, throughout the country.
The Farm Army and Farm Rescue divisions were then set up and involves tradies and volunteers staying and completing on-farm jobs for rescue recipients.
Counselling services are also available through the organisation and primary producers can apply for a one-off $1500 payment to put towards bills.
To be eligible for assistance through Rural Aid register online at www.buyabale.com.au/can-we-help-you/ or contact 1300 327 624.