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'Parma for a farmer' to help drought-stricken communities

By Simon Galletta and Cherie von Hörchner, Monday August 6, 2018 - 16:54 EST
ABC licensed image
Chicken parmigiana is on the menu to help drought-affected farmers at the Irymple Hotel near Mildura. - ABC licensed

The humble chicken parmigiana is being called upon to help drought-stricken farmers in New South Wales and Queensland.

The Australian Hotels Association is urging pubs nationwide to join the Parma for a Farmer campaign, which donates money from each parmigiana sold to help communities ravaged by drought.

Chief executive Paddy O'Sullivan said pubs had a long tradition of helping out during tough times.

"The local pub is the heart of the local community," he said.

"Publicans see themselves as a community facility where locals can all come together, and the local public is always a great centrepiece for the community in order for these sorts of causes to be supported."

Pubs heed the call

The Irymple Hotel near Mildura, in Victoria's north-west, is donating $1 from every parmigiana sold in August to go towards helping communities ravaged by drought.



Bar manager James Kedmenec said the money would go to Buy a Bale, a scheme that gets feed to starving livestock.

"We've got some staff who have got connections to the land, so you just want to help out any way you can," he said.

"We sell about 1,000 to 1,500 parmies every month, but it will increase with this promotion going.

"I'll have to warn the kitchen to get going."



Gippsland pubs on board

Meanwhile, across the other side of the state, the Wally pub in Walhalla, Gippsland has also answered the call.



Most pubs in the area have come on board and many restaurants have added the old favourite to their menus.

Wally pub co-owner Emma Lennie said her heart broke when she watched the news and saw the cows that had died in the paddocks.

When the pub made the choice to join in, the owners were aware of farmer hardship in New South Wales, but had not realised farmers in East Gippsland were also struggling to make ends meet.

Also in Gippsland, the Yinnar Hotel was one of the first to jump on board.

"We try and help whoever we can. We know how hard it is, we do it tough ourselves here, especially since Hazelwood closed down," owner Trevor Hornibrook said.

"I've had a lady come in and she's given me $20 to donate to the kitty. People are being really good about it."



Farmers welcome parma campaign

Sheep producer Wayne Smith, from Karoola Station near Pooncarie in New South Wales, said the Parma for a Farmer campaign shone a bit of light on the endless dry.

"We're really thinking about next year's budget. If it doesn't rain, it'll be gloomy for everyone," he said.

"It's a great idea by the hotels association … people want to help but it's hard to find a way to help. Buy a Bale I guess is one way of doing it.

"The hard part is, there's not many bales to buy. It's getting harder and harder to find. It'll take some stress from some people to have some bales given to them."

Mitch Harrison from Langwell Station, 200 kilometres from Wentworth, said any campaign helped farmers who were pushing hard to keep livestock alive.

"It's very, very dry. It's probably drier than what it was in 1999 through to the 2000s. At least then we were getting a little bit of rain to carry stock through to sell," he said.

"But we haven't sort of had a good rain for over 12 months, and the softer, sandy kind of country is getting blown away."

Although Mr Harrison was fond of a chicken parma and beer, he hoped the dish extended beyond chicken.

"Unfortunately, it's chicken and not lamb. Might be nice to see a bit of crumbed lamb with a bit of cheese and sauce on it as well," he said.

"It's just one of those meals where you can just stop in any pub on a Friday night and sit down and have a few beers and a parma. It's really great."

Charities need to be effective



Parmas aside, Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud has taken to YouTube to call on Australians to holiday in the bush as a way of helping struggling rural towns.

But while the campaign has the backing of the Victorian Farmers Federation, president David Jochinke said the Government needed to step in and streamline aid relief efforts.

He said while he did not doubt the sincerity of charities, it was important for any relief agency to be as effective as possible.

"We don't need to have another round of charities developed," Mr Jochinke said.

"There are established charities out here that we should be utilising.

"[People] should have a portal they can go to where they can give a little bit of coin to [the agency] or give a little bit of money to a fodder relief agency."



Mr Jochinke said the Government needed to ensure export markets were protected, after India slapped a 60 per cent tariff on chickpeas.

He said many farmers had turned to drought-resistant crops as a way of adapting to a changing climate.

"But unless you've got a market, you may as well produce nothing," he said.

Mr Jochinke said one of the best things people could do was buy locally grown produce.

"The domestic market is still our best for produce because not only is it the shortest supply chain, it's also a product we can trust."

With additional reporting by Matt Tribe, Angus Verley and Bec Symons.


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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