Area farmers get neighbourly help 0
Before the first shipment from “Hay East 2012” was unloaded in Cobden, representatives from the organizing committee posed with the owners of the first two farms to get hay for their herds. From the left: Glenn Buck, Ontario board chair for Mennonite Disaster Service; Luke Martin and Ron McCoy, the first recipients of western hay; and Brian Hamilton of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).
Neighbours are there for each other, and geographic boundaries don’t stand in the way of being neighbourly.
Tuesday morning the first shipment of hay in the “Hay East 2012” project arrived at the Cobden Fairgrounds after its long journey east from Saskatoon. The hay is the first of many loads to be delivered to Renfrew County from the Prairies to help local farmers who were hard-hit by this summer’s drought.
It was a neighbourly way to repay the kindness shown by Eastern farmers in 2002, when railcars full of hay were shipped out west to get Prairie farmers through a drought of their own.
“This is just a drop in the bucket, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Glenn Buck, Ontario board chair for Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), the emergency preparedness branch of the Mennonite Church. Over the next several months, the organizing committee of Hay East (which includes members of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture along with MDS) will be fundraising to try and keep shipments heading east to address the urgent need for hay in the East to feed livestock herds.
The initial shipment on Tuesday consisted of 30 bales of hay, each bale weighing 1,600 pounds (727.27 kilograms). Through pre-registration by local farmers – of which there were 125 farms and more coming in daily – two farms were selected to share the first load, each getting 15 bales.
Ron McCoy and Luke Martin were both on hand for the arrival of the first shipment and both were grateful for the respite it will bring.
“We milk 60 head and these 15 bales will get us through the next two weeks,” Mr. McCoy stated. “It’s a whole lot better than nothing and it shows what people will do to help each other, now hopefully our federal and provincial governments will step up and provide some funding.”
Although the hay is donated by western farmers, money is needed to pay for the transportation, primarily fuel costs.
MP Cheryl Gallant was on hand for the arrival of the first load, but did not comment.
Brian Hamilton, OFA representative, said the fact the first shipment is only a stop-gap measure for two farms out of more than 125 looking for help makes it obvious how much more is needed.
“We need 30,000 to 50,000 bales of hay in order to feed our herds so there is still a lot to be done,” Mr. Hamilton said.
Individuals or businesses may make a donation at any Scotiabank across Canada, or cheques can be made payable to “HayEast 2012.” Program details are available at www.hayeast2012.com, which will have instructions as well as an address to which donations can be sent if a receipt is desired.