Guyra cattle farmers Bill and Jacqui Mitchell receive Coles funding to drought-proof property

Guyra cattle farmers Bill and Jacqui Mitchell will be able to protect their property from drought, thanks to Coles funding.
Guyra cattle farmers Bill and Jacqui Mitchell will be able to protect their property from drought, thanks to Coles funding.

For nearly a decade, Guyra cattle farmers Bill and Jacqui Mitchell, of Glenbrook Pastoral, had sold grass-fed beef to the Coles supermarket chain.

Last year's drought brought a halt to their business.

Now, funding from Coles is helping them drought-proof their property - and put their meat back on grocery shelves.

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The Mitchells have received $330,000 from Coles to build a single large water storage tank, a dam, and a hay shed.

"It means a lot to us that they're helping us make our business better," Mr Mitchell said.

They are among 16 farmers and food producers in Australia - five of them in NSW - chosen to share $5 million from the Coles Nurture Fund to protect their businesses from drought in the long term. Applications for the funding round opened last year.

The Mitchells were among the first farmers in the country to supply grass-fed beef for a then-new range, 'Graze', in 2014, and appeared on Channel 7's My Kitchen Rules segments to promote the product.

"Coles have been a pretty big supporter of the grass-fed beef over recent years," Mr Mitchell said. "I think this is a really important step in helping us help them to keep that product on the shelf."

FARMER: Bill Mitchell with some of his grass-fed herd.

FARMER: Bill Mitchell with some of his grass-fed herd.

The drought had prevented his farm from supplying the grass-fed beef product, Mr Mitchell said. Although they had set the property up to produce the grass-finished beef efficiently, they weren't equipped to feed stock properly in drought, and ran short of water.

The new shed will allow them to have fodder on hand for dry seasons, while the tank will let them water their stock even when their current sources have run out.

"We want to make sure we're a reliable supplier of grass-fed beef," Mr Mitchell said. "For us, that means being able to supply through good seasons and bad."

Coles has committed $16 million for drought-relief over the past nine months, according to the supermarket chain.

"We know the drought has been devastating for so many farmers across Australia, and we've tried to help where we can with short-term relief," chief operating officer Greg Davis said.

Coles has also provided short-term drought relief through the Country Women's Association,which has distributed more than 2800 grants to drought-affected families to help cover household expenses such as food, medical, electricity and water bills. Coles has also distributed $3.9 million to 639 dairy farmers through drought relief payments.

The Coles Nurture Fund has provided nearly $20 million to 50 food and grocery producers to help develop new products, technologies, or processes since it was established in April 2015.

"With support from the Coles Nurture Fund, we want to enable farmers to embark on projects which will help them in the long-term so they can drought-proof their businesses for the future," Mr Davis said.