Cotton communities receive $150,000 boost

Bryson Head, Emma King, Jason Shearer-Smith, Andrew Wilkie, Karen Penfold, Laura Garland, Peter McGilchrist, Sarah Godley and John Cranney at a recent Macintyre Ag Alliance field day.
Bryson Head, Emma King, Jason Shearer-Smith, Andrew Wilkie, Karen Penfold, Laura Garland, Peter McGilchrist, Sarah Godley and John Cranney at a recent Macintyre Ag Alliance field day.

Schools, sports clubs and a rural fire brigade are among the 30 not-for-profit organisations in rural and regional cotton-growing communities to receive a $5000 boost from the Aussie Cotton Farmers Grow Communities program.

Locally, Lundavra Primary P&C Association will use the grant to support student wellbeing and community resilience, through the purchase of a water tank to maintain school grounds.

And Macintyre Ag Alliance Inc will use the funding to support environmental outcomes through the purchasing of weed spraying equipment.

This year marks the seventh round of the Aussie Cotton Farmers Grow Communities program, which the Crop Science division of Bayer delivers in partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR). This year's program takes the total investment into cotton communities to more than one million dollars.

Local cotton growers nominated each of the not-for-profits that are receiving funds, which will help strengthen community resilience and positively impact on the wellbeing of cotton-growing communities.

FRRR CEO Natalie Egleton said a consistent theme across nominations this year was a strong desire to boost morale and maintain community spirit in the face of drought.

"Local cotton growing communities, already dealing with the stresses of sustained drought, have told us of the additional strain caused by COVID-19 restrictions. For these groups, normal fundraising activities have been turned on their head with local businesses, already struggling to survive, unable to lend their support to these community organisations," Ms Egleton said.

"It's wonderful to have partners like Bayer to be able to help to alleviate some of their fundraising challenges as they work hard to keep their communities connected and address critical community needs.

"There are so many not-for-profit groups and local charities doing wonderful things to make cotton growing communities great places to live and work. This year we've seen many groups seeking support to develop and build organisational and community resilience. Their determination to see their communities thrive, despite the challenges they face, is inspiring," she said.

Bayer Crop Science Head of Customer Marketing for Australia and New Zealand, Tony May, congratulated the winners and said the funding would assist in bringing people together again after being disconnected by COVID-19 restrictions.

"Many of the projects being funded will ensure cotton-growing communities can interact and connect with one another safely during the pandemic," Mr May said.

"The grants will help build community gardens, upgrade facilities for digital learning and enhance outdoor areas to foster connections."

Gogeldrie Rural Fire Brigade in central north Riverina NSW, was a recipient of one of the 30 Aussie Cotton Farmers Grow Communities grants. The brigade plan to use the grant to invest in suitable gym equipment to ensure the safety of its users. Currently gym users are improvising, including dragging around spare tyres tied on with rope.

On hearing they had been successful, Gogeldrie Fire Brigade Captain David Pike said it was fantastic news and would make a big difference to their small community.

"Providing appropriate gym equipment will be a nice reward for our volunteer fire fighters and motivate our farmers to come together and put their health and wellbeing first, more often," Captain Pike said.

A complete list of grant recipients can be found on the FRRR website.