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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has welcomed a fundraising effort in Melbourne this weekend to raise money for drought-affected farmers in Gippsland.

Rural Aid and the Essendon and Geelong AFL clubs have banded together to raise money for drought relief in Gippsland as part of the Country Festival match at the MCG this Sunday.

Mr Chester said the day would help to boost awareness of the plight of many of Gippsland’s primary producers.

“This is the worst drought in 100 years in some parts of Gippsland,” Mr Chester said.

“Our farmers have been doing it tough for a long time and many are struggling to meet costs such as feed for stock, bank loans, municipal rates, re-establishing pasture or transporting stock for agistment.

“There’s still a long way to go before they will be able to get back on their feet.

“Events like this are welcome acknowledgement in the city of what our farming communities have been enduring.

“I hope the event is a great success and that this success translates into practical help that will make a meaningful difference to our farmers.”

Singer-songwriter John Williamson will perform on the ground before the game between the Cats and the Bombers gets underway at 3.20pm.

Country Festival activities will begin in the Yarra Park precinct at 11am. Kasey Chambers, John Williamson, the Mik Maks and Adelaide Clark will perform as part of the free event.

Rural Aid is one of Australia’s largest rural charities. Its Buy a Bale campaign has provided more than 30,000 tonnes of hay to farmers in need.

Mr Chester said more needed to be done across all levels of government to address the drought crisis.

“One thing farmers are telling us consistently is rate relief is urgently needed – and that’s where the State Government needs to step in and act quickly,” Mr Chester said.

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