Farmers across western NSW have been lent a much needed hand on their properties with farm machinery maintenance after a task force of 15 technicians have donated four days of their time.
Staff from Komatsu in Mudgee volunteered their time for four days this week on 15 properties across the Wellington, Nyngan, and Geurie areas, servicing more than 60 machines.
All work, parts and materials were donated by Komatsu, Fleetguard, Exide, Castrol and Pirtek Mudgee.
The Komatsu team serviced all farm machinery, regardless of make, with oil changes and filter changes.
Codey Metcraft, in charge of Customer Support at Komatsu Mudgee, said that the local team jumped was more than happy to help where they can.
"It was given to the Mudgee Branch and we were all on board, and it escalated from there, once we were told we could run a drought relief program and support the people in need we jumped at the opportunity," Codey said.
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"So we're changing oil filters, fuel filters, oil, hoses, and anything we see that might need repairing we're fixing there and then.
"It's things they don't really have time to do, because they're too busy saving their livelihoods. And we're happy to take a bit of the relief and a bit of the burden away from them.
"Because it's not something that's a priority for them right now. And they're overwhelmed with the help they're getting."
And added that while many people would see how dry the landscape is when driving between centres, that's only magnified when you get off the road.
"We went into a property and it was just brown, there's not even grass, it's heartbreaking," Codey said.
"When you're driving there's dead grass, which will come back, but once you get in behind those paddocks it's just dust and dirt."
Komatsu branch manager in Mudgee, Anthony Constable was there for the drought relief farm aid.
Mr Constable said while the plan was to help 20 farmers, a Komatsu resident fitter in Dubbo will continue to work with a list over the coming weeks.
Despite the ongoing dry, Komatsu in Mudgee was a healthy business, Mr Constable explained, but they know how hard it has been and wanted to help.
"Without a farmer we don't have an economy basically... they grow everything and they feed our economy and if we don't help them when times are tough we won't have a business moving forward," he said.
Knowing that the dry times will continue, Mr Constable added that they are hoping to do another drought relief initiative next year.
"We're thinking maybe towards March/April to 2020 to hold another drought relief across northern NSW," he said.
"We want them to understand that they (farmers) are not their on their own. There's always someone to talk to and we're here..."
Wellington farmer, Tony Inder hosted the taskforce at his property during day two of the operation and described their help as "absolutely brilliant."
"There's lots of people who have donated money to different causes to do with the drought which is absolutely fantastic, but to actually have some companies come on board, come out and be part of it and be as good as these fella's are, is really, really good," he explained.
I'm speechless it's absolutely brilliant. Full credit to everyone, it's a huge thing...Wellington farmer, Tony Inder
"It's really getting to the core of the problem."
Mr Inder said it was hard to get jobs like farm machinery maintenance done while in the grip of a drought.
"You put it off and put it off. You avoid it because it's a bit of an expense, thinking 'it'll be right until next time' sort of thing, but it needs to be done," he said.
For all farmers
Mr Inder spoke for all farmers receiving help when he said they're just so appreciative.
"I'm speechless it's absolutely brilliant. Full credit to everyone, it's a huge thing," he added.
While farmers across the region were doing it tough, the ongoing dry conditions has had a flow on effect to rural families and local businesses, Mr Inder said.
"They (businesses) miss out on a lot of funding that's around and they're the ones (that are also struggling), because we (farmers) are not buying stuff there," he explained.
The Wellington farmer added that even when it does rain and the drought breaks it will take many farmers 12 to 18 months to recover
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"We won't sell any grain for that time and we won't sell any hay until we replenish supplies. So that's when the money drought hits... we'll have no stock to sell, we'll try to breed up numbers again, so its more the ongoing effect that I realise is going to be there when it does break and it will break," he explained.
"You need a good crop after the rain to get your silos full again, get a good hay season, but that's all income that you would normally of (sic) sold so you skip that year as well."
Komatsu technician Todd Hutton, from Newcastle, told the Western Magazine while at Mr Inder's property on November 29, that the trip has been "an eye opener."
"It's obviously tough they're out there feeding with majority of their time," he said.
"And a lot of these guys are pretty capable to do this sort of thing (farm machinery maintenance) but they're probably time poor more than anything."
Last year Komatsu helped with machinery maintenance for drought-affected farmers in Coonabarabran.
Mr Hutton said the feedback from that first drought relief initiative was so positive that it allowed them to come out again this year with an event bigger taskforce.
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