The rural community is rallying around IHC's efforts to find alternative ways to raise a $1 million funding target, without increasing the risk of spreading Mycoplasma bovis.

IHC made the call this month to suspend its transfer and sales of livestock as part of its Calf and Rural Scheme for the first time in 33 years.

DairyNZ, along with Allflex and PGG Wrightson Livestock, has jumped on board to offer its support by creating an innovative way farmers can still donate an animal.

In its latest issue of Inside Dairy, it's included a special pink ear-tag, which farmers can attach to a calf that they commit to rearing alongside their replacement heifers, or dairy beef – and then send as part of their normal sale of the surplus calves – the proceeds of which will go to IHC.

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IHC said it was encouraged by the generosity from the rural community, but would be monitoring closely to see if this translated into donations to meet the fundraising target.

"This isn't an easy time for farmers, but they have continued to show such generosity and support for IHC and the Calf and Rural Scheme," said IHC National Manager Fundraising Greg Millar.

"We aren't out of the woods just yet – we've reached just 15 per cent of our funding target and so we still have a long way to go.

"But we're grateful that so many people around New Zealand have backed our decision – and not only that, but have rallied to come up with alternative solutions to make up for what could have been a funding shortfall.

"The cumulative impact of these small individual efforts will have a real effect on the lives and futures of people with intellectual disabilities.

"IHC canvassers still touring the country to meet with farmers have told us of the unwavering support from the rural community based on IHC's decision to suspend crucial aspects of the Calf and Rural Scheme.

"This is a real testament to the hard work, innovation and generosity that farmers around New Zealand have shown us since the scheme began back in 1984.

"This disease isn't going to affect who we are, our sense of community, or what we do," says Greg.

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It's not just the rural community banding together to help – one self-proclaimed "townie" Jacky Braid, a teacher from Hastings, said when she realised the likely impact on the Calf and Rural Scheme fundraiser, she decided to act.

Braid sent the word out to her Twitter followers with the idea of pooling enough money to buy one or two calves. And in less than two weeks, 72 people from as far away as the United States and Austria contributed $2100 to pay for seven virtual calves.

Ways you can help
IHC would like to encourage people who want to continue to support people with intellectual disabilities to head to www.ihc.org.nz/pledge and donate in any of the following ways:

- Take part in our virtual rural scheme by donating $300 (or $25 a month) in lieu of livestock.

- Register a calf to IHC that you would rear alongside your replacement heifers or dairy beef, and then send as part of the normal sale of your surplus calves.

- Register a pledge of other livestock or produce.