Holly author Holstein donates profits to help dairy farmers devastated by flooding in New South Wales


Russell Smith had just finished his book, Holly the Holstein, when a century-old flood hit dairy farmers on the north coast of New South Wales hard.

The Sunshine Coast-based author knew firsthand that dairy farmers affected by the March floods had already been through a lot – drought, deregulation and a series of natural disasters.

Raised on a dairy farm in Millaa Millaa in far north Queensland, Smith says his children’s picture book is a tribute to the industry.

“When I was young there were over 300 dairy farms there and now I think there are around 30,” he said.

“Farmers are going through such a difficult time since the deregulation of the price of milk in the industry.

Mr. Smith hopes to raise $ 10,000 by Christmas. (Provided: Russell Smith)

He plans to donate the profits from his book to the Mid Coast Dairy Advancement Group for distribution to farmers affected by the floods.

“I started to read shocking stories about how difficult it is for farmers,” he said.

Money to help farmers enjoy Christmas

Smith’s goal is to raise $ 10,000 by Christmas.

“I have donated over $ 8,000 so far, so we only have a few thousand dollars more to raise,” he said.

“The goal is to ensure that all dairy farming families have a very good Christmas.

“A lot of the farmers I spoke to didn’t have the time or the money to just go out and have a nice family dinner.

Young girl dressed as a dairy cow and boy dressed as a farmer holding a book.
Ben and Ella from Laidley, Queensland dressed up as Farmer Col and Holly for Book Week.(Provided: Russell Smith)

Farmers grateful for the support

Dairy farmer Rachel Nicholson of Jones Island near Taree said she was shocked at the generosity of a foreigner from Queensland.

“We were fortunate to get help from the community and from people like Russell who donated the proceeds of his book,” she said.

A man stands in a dairy with brown water up to his chest with dairy cows in the background.
Ms Nicholson’s stepfather milked their cows in a flooded dairy.(Provided: Rachel Nicholson)

She said her family’s farm had “completely collapsed” during the flooding.

“There wasn’t a blade of grass above the water on our farm, all of our dairy and sheds and everything.

A young boy sits in a big orange tractor reading the book Holly Holstein
Ms. Nicholson says her son, Albert, loves the book.(Provided: Rachel Nicholson)

Local businesses are getting started

Hastings Coop’s business and community development director Tim Walker said he jumped at the chance to stock Holly the Holstein in the company’s supermarkets and rural stores.

“When I found out it was to fundraise for farmers, it was a no-brainer,” Walker said.

A group of farmers, supermarket workers and children stand around a cow, holding a book.
Dairy farmers across the region are extremely grateful to Russell Smith and the generosity of the community.(ABC Rural: Keely Johnson)

Mr Walker said the book had generated a lot of local interest on the shelves of rural stores in Kew, Comboyne and Wauchope as well as in four of his supermarkets in the area.

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