Seeds of hope

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Bob and Ros Huxley count themselves lucky to be sowing a crop this season, after delivering just 58 tonnes of grain last year.

It was thanks to a helping hand from their fellow farmers that the Gabbin growers were able to roll the dice again.

The farming family was one of 23 farm businesses across the Wheatbelt to receive grain through CBH’s Seed Donation Program.

The couple described the 27 tonnes of Wyalkatchem wheat donated to them as a ‘lifesaver’.

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The family traditionally budgets on producing about 1000 tonnes of wheat. But last year’s dismal season left the Huxleys contemplating how they would continue farming.

A difficult financial situation meant buying seed this year would be a stretch and the couple was considering sowing only half of their cropping program at best.

The seed donation turned that scenario around.

“I’d be off looking for a job right now otherwise,” Bob said.

After taking the crop off last year, Bob left about 120ha for seed wheat.

“I thought we would get 20t to 30t from that, but there was nothing in it,” he said.

Since CBH’s call for donations of seed wheat and barley, 29 farmers contributed grain of various types and grades.

Grain that was not seed quality or an appropriate variety was sold by CBH to purchase suitable seed grains.

But for some, it was not just about keeping farmers producing grain.

Bob said for those affected by drought, receiving donated seed was a huge boost to morale.

“For many of us, you sometimes feel like you’re battling alone,” he said.

“This (donation program) makes you feel like you’re not forgotten. We can’t express how grateful we are.”

After receiving their seed, Bob and Ros asked CBH if it would like them to return the wheat from this year’s crop or pay for it later in the season.

Bob said they were told simply to consider donating in the future if the situation was reversed — and the Huxleys said they would.

“It will be a wonderful feeling to repay the seed and know that we will be able to help someone out,” Ros said.

For this seeding, Bob said the family was considering expanding their program.

With good rain, the program will be pushed out by another 10 to 20 per cent to capitalise on high grain prices.

And as the heavens opened on Monday this week, that scenario seemed more likely.

By noon on Tuesday, the Huxleys had picked up 20mm of rain and it was continuing to bucket down.

Ros said they were soaked by a downpour while shifting sheep and had already been bogged, but they were not complaining.

“It’s all good,” she said. “There will be no dry seeding now, but it will be a couple of days before we can get onto the paddock to seed.”

The Department of Agriculture and Food and AAS Seed Cleaners donated services and equipment to the Seed Donation Program, and grain variety owners and End Point Royalty managers waived fees on donated tonnes.

It was the second time that CBH had instigated this program, after the company’s initiative for the 2007–2008 season.

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