BATHURST publicans, the gauntlet has been thrown down.
Amid the grinding drought on the Central Tablelands, Bathurst resident and Blayney publican Marty Russell has found a way to do his bit for the region’s farmers.
And now he is challenging his equivalents in the hotels of Bathurst to do the same.
Mr Russell, of Blayney’s Exchange Hotel, has jumped on board the Parma for a Farmer initiative, which asks participating pubs to donate $1 from the sale of each chicken parmigiana to Buy a Bale, the organisation chosen by the Australian Hotels Association to assist farmers.
“Whenever the farmers come into the bar to have a beer at the end of the day and I ask them what they’ve been up to, the answer is always the same: feeding stock,” Mr Russell said.
He has decided to go a step further, though, and is donating $3 from each parma sold, without raising the price.
“We’re paying for it, essentially, and we’ll keep doing it every day until the drought finishes,” he said.
Mr Russell kicked off his parma challenge last weekend and said he’s expecting a surge once word gets out.
“We did 11 parmas last weekend, but that was without anyone really knowing about it, so it should really start to pick up this week,” he said.
Normally, he said, a publican would be unhappy if they saw their idea stolen, “but in this case, I want this to be picked up by all the pubs to raise money for the cause”.
Mr Russell said Facebook posts for the Exchange Hotel’s restaurant normally get two or three shares, but the post about the parma challenge “had a dozen shares in the first two days”.
“There has been a lot of positive feedback on Facebook and messages of support,” he said.
According to the latest Department of Primary Industries figures, the entire state is now affected by drought.
The DPI says 61 per cent of NSW is either in drought or intense drought, while nearly 39pc is drought-affected.
The combined drought indicator - which takes in rainfall, soil water, plant growth and long-term climate data - shows no part of NSW is recovering despite some recent rain.
Bathurst is more than 150 millimetres down on its annual rainfall to this time of year.