Even though flooding has occurred in southern and eastern states, southwestern states are experiencing the worst drought in decades.
Reports are that many ranchers in Texas have been forced to sell their cattle due to a lack of hay and water.
Ranchers in Oklahoma are facing the same hardships. In that part of the country, there have been more than 100 straight days of temperatures of 100 degrees or more – breaking the all-time record. People there are reporting that the only green areas in sight are golf courses.
Rather than doing nothing and allowing Oklahoma ranchers to accept rock bottom prices on their herds, members of Wisconsin chapters of Family Farm Defenders have joined forces with the Farm Aid organization and Teamsters to send semi truckloads of hay there.
Local Family Farm Defenders member Randy Jasper said the idea is to send enough hay to stall herd sales to try to help Oklahoma ranchers get better prices. Unfortunately, he said, “Most of them have to get rid of their cattle as soon as possible. We’re trying to slow the ‘blood-letting’ so they won’t have to sell so fast. We wish we could send them enough hay for a year, but the hay around here is not great either. We’ve had a shortage of rain here, too.”
Still, Jasper doesn’t want to sound like Wisconsin cattlemen are complaining. “We’re in pretty good shape overall,” he said. “We haven’t been droughted to death. We’re pretty lucky.”
Jasper said the Farm Aid organization is lining up trucks and paying for fuel, the Teamsters Union is donating semis and drivers, and Family Farm Defenders from Wisconsin are donating hay.
So far, Jasper said, two semi loads of 20 tons each have been sent to Oklahoma. Seven more loads of that size are being lined up. The hay is mostly in large round bales, but hay in any size or shape is being sought for the effort.
Jasper so far has sent one-half load, as has local farmer Lyle Tydrich. Other local farmers, Brad McCauley and Bill Troxel, have sent one load each, Jasper said. Farmers from around here and other areas in the state will also be sending hay, Jasper said.
Anyone can help contribute to the cause, Jasper said. He said tax-deductible hay in any size bale and amount is sought, with no donation considered too small. However, haylage is not being sought. Arrangements can be made to pick up hay from out of the area. Additionally, he said, tax-deductible cash donations can be sent to the non-profit Family Farm Defenders, P.O. Box 1772, Madison, WI 53701. Put ‘hay lift’ on the memo line.
“This is all about solidarity,” Jasper said. “Workers and farmers need to stick together.”