Russell Smith had just finished his book, Holly the Holstein, when a once-in-a-century flood hit dairy farmers hard on the NSW Mid North Coast. 

Key points:

  • Russell Smith is donating all proceeds from his book to help flood-affected dairy farmers 
  • Smith was shocked at how badly farmers on the Mid North Coast were affected by the March floods
  • He hopes to raise more than $10,000 by Christmas

The Sunshine Coast-based author knew firsthand the dairy farmers affected by the March flood had already been through a lot — drought, deregulation, and a range 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 growing up there were over 300 dairy farms there and now I think there are about 30,” he said.

“Farmers have had such a tough time since the deregulation of the price of milk in the industry.

Russell Smith holds picture book with cow on it smiling.

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

He plans to donate the profits from his book to the Mid Coast Dairy Advancement Group to distribute to flood-affected farmers.

“I started reading shocking stories about how difficult it was for the farmers,” he said.

Money to help farmers enjoy Christmas

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

“I’ve handed over more than $8,000 so far, so we’ve only got a few more thousand dollars to raise,” he said.

“The goal is to make sure all the dairy farming families actually have a really good Christmas.

“A lot of the farmers I’ve spoken to haven’t had the time or money to just go out and have a nice, family dinner.

Young girl dressed as a dairy cow and boy dressed as a famer holding book.

Ben and Ella from Laidley in Queensland dressed up as Farmer Col and Holly for Book Week.(Supplied: Russell Smith)

Farmers grateful for support

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

“We’ve been lucky to get help from the community and people like Russell donating 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 father-in-law milked their cows in a flooded dairy.(Supplied: Rachel Nicholson)

She said her family’s farm went “completely under” during the flood event.

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

Young boy sits in big, orange tractor reading holly the holstein book

Ms Nicholson says her son, Albert, loves the book.(Supplied: Rachel Nicholson)

Local businesses jump onboard

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

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

Group of farmers, supermarket workers and kids stand around cow, holding book.

Dairy farmers from across the region are extremely grateful for Russell Smith’s and the community’s generosity.(ABC Rural: Keely Johnson)

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

Posted , updated 

Book profits to buy flood-affected dairy farmers ‘big Christmas dinners’
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