Family aiding Meat the Need

A South Canterbury farming family’s annual bull sale this year will show support to a rural charity feeding city missions and food banks.

John and Liz McKercher’s Shrimpton’s Hill Herefords was established in 1969, and in 2020 featured 750 females and about 750 support stock.

Each September, the family holds an annual on-farm spring bull sale offering up to 200 Hereford bulls.

This year the full proceeds of their lot 20 will be donated to Meat the Need, a charity set up to assist farmers in donating meat to the most vulnerable in their local communities and urban centres.

"We thought we would put lot 20 in 2020 up for charity and do it again next year, with lot 21."

Founding partner Silver Fern Farms processed the livestock, providing 500g parcels of mince for local food banks and city missions.

Mr McKercher said the idea to donate came about when lockdown dried up the involvement of their son, Hamish, in the Queenstown tourism industry.

"Hamish was always going to come home to the farm but a lot of his friends did not have a plan B and were left pretty exposed," he said.

They contacted Meat the Need co-founder Siobhan O’Malley and said their bull sale was coming up on September 30, asking if the charity needed cash.

Mr McKercher said Meat the Need still had transportation and distribution expenses, accepting their help.

More than 600 animals had been donated to Meat the Need in the past four months, through livestock donations directly to Silver Fern Farms and from virtual animal donations online.

The donations were used to fill foodbanks’ freezers across the South Island.

Meat the Need co-founder Wayne Langford said setting the charity up was nerve-racking.

"You wonder whether farmers will get on board with donations. To see them coming in the way they have is just fantastic,” Mr Langford said.

"In total, that is over 325,000 meals already donated by farmers for those who, for one reason or another, are doing it tough at this time."

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