Agribusiness

Australian pubs band together to help drought-stricken farmers through ‘Parma for a Farmer’ campaign

Dominic Powell /

Hundreds of Australian pubs across the country have banded together to help drought-stricken farmers through the ‘Parma for a Farmer’ campaign in an effort expected to raise over $1 million dollars.

The concept is simple, yet effective: over the month of August, pubs will donate $1 or more from each chicken parmigiana they sell to Rural Aid’s ‘Buy a Bale’ campaign, which purchases and sends hay bales to farms in drought-affected areas. The state of New South Wales was recently declared 100% in drought, and farmers in the region are facing starving stock and dying crops.

Getting underway this week, the campaign has seen immense support from both Australians and local publicans. Speaking to SmartCompany, Rural Aid chief executive Charles Alder says the idea for the campaign came from one of the organisation’s local volunteers who was looking for a way to help out in her local community.

“She put up a Facebook page, and within five or ten minutes, pubs were already reaching out and asking how they could do it,” he says.

Alder estimates about 700 or more venues across the country have indicated they’re participating in the campaign, and a quick search on Facebook shows hundreds of events from pubs in every state pledging their parma donations to the cause.

“Some are doing $1-2, some are going as high as $5 dollars, and some are doing it all month or just one day in the month. They’re all finding a way to get engaged with the cause and with customers,” he says.

All in all, he believes the total amount raised for in-need farmers could end up being over $1 million.

One such pub on board with the campaign is Murphy’s pub in Geelong. Co-owner Shaun Aspinall told SmartCompany he and his three fellow owners are all country boys, so the cause resonated deeply.

“We know exactly how much farmers are struggling at the moment, this initiative is us all over,” he says.

On top of the money raised through parma sales, the owners have also pledged to match the amount raised, with the campaign running at their pub over the whole month and consumers already reacting very positively.

“You can’t get much more Australian than a chicken parmi. I think we’ll sell over 2,000, to be honest,” Aspinall says.

“It’s true Aussie spirit when it comes to helping one another, we’re all guns blazing.”

Non-parma lovers will also be able to donate via tins at the bar says Aspinall.

Sadly for Geelongians  who are notorious for their controversial ‘parmi’ spelling  “Parmi for a Farmi” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

SMEs urged to get on board

Alder believes the response to this round of drought relief is some of the highest Rural Aid has seen, with not only small businesses and pubs getting on board, but corporates too.

The big two supermarkets Coles and Woolworths have pledged to aid farmers, with Coles matching all donations throughout August and Woolworths contributing all profits from its fresh food sales on Saturday to the cause.

Additionally, corporates such as Qantas, Westpac, Caltex and ANZ have pledged their support via various donations, discounts and loans. The government has also pledged a $190 million package.

For SMEs wanting to help out, Alder says flat donations can be made through the Rural Aid website, but suggests businesses try and devise their own fundraising methods, especially if selling a parma isn’t possible.

“Maybe a percentage of turnover, or 50c from every coffee sale. You can write it up on your chalkboard, and it’s an easy message for people to engage with,” he says.

NOW READ: Royal commission shows bank lenders don’t ‘get’ farming, and rural economies pay the price

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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