A POPULAR drought campaign has won the public over, but the supermarkets have been slower to offer support.
Queensland grazier Jack Neilson's Dollar For Drought initiative has received more than 25,000 signatures of support since it was first created two weeks ago ('Simple plan for big drought boost', The Land, October 8, p10).
Mr Neilson's wants to put donation buckets at supermarket checkouts so shoppers can contribute cash to drought affected areas.
Proceeds would be given as cash donations to affected farmers.
Mount Isa MP Rob Katter has pledged his support.
He said drought had crippled most towns in his electorate and a lot of people in metropolitan areas wouldn't be aware of the hardships his electorates faced.
Some farmers had to ask the bank for a cheque to buy food, and urban residents would help if they knew, he said.
"There's a lot of good will out there and there's been strong attempts to connect that empathy with people in need," he said.
Mr Neilson would like to work with local charities in drought hit regions, or farmer charity Aussie Helpers - but the supermarkets were reluctant to commit to his plan.
A Woolworths spokesman told The Land that since 2007 the company had contributed nearly $20 million to drought support.
"The Salvation Army is our natural disaster recovery partner, our customers can donate to the Salvos at any time in our stores at the registers," they said.
"We have asked the Salvation Army to dedicate any donations made in our stores by our customers in October to drought assistance."
A Coles spokesman said Coles worked with various charities, including Redkite, Cancer Council, Foodbank, Guide Dogs Australia and the Australian Defence Force Trust.
"We'll continue to work with our national charity partners to ensure our support reaches as many people as possible across Australia," they said.
Mr Neilson said local groups are best placed to distribute funds, because they understand the individual needs of drought hit communities.
"We need it to come from people on the ground that know who's in trouble," he said.
Mr Neilson said it had been difficult to make major supermarket chains understand they wouldn't be required to offer additional funding to drought support.