After a 20,000-acre grass fire swept through some 19 farms and ranches on the southwestern North Dakota/northwestern South Dakota border, Farm Rescue joined the effort to haul hay to some of those ranchers.
“Families that were affected suffered loss of cattle, fencing, and important grazing ground,” said Dan Erdmann of Farm Rescue. “In the weeks that followed, our volunteers delivered much-needed hay and fencing supplies to many of the affected families.”
Farm Rescue is continuing its Operation Hay Lift effort, which started a couple of years ago, to haul hay to ranchers affected by wildfires, as well as drought.
“Dry conditions that helped fuel the Lemmon (S.D.) area fire have worsened in many areas of our service territory. A majority of North Dakota is now in severe or extreme drought zones, as well as portions of eastern Montana and western South Dakota,” Erdmann said.
Because of the dry conditions, Farm Rescue has been staying busy hauling livestock feed to ranchers affected by these natural disasters.
Farm Rescue actually owns several trucks and trailers, so they are utilizing that equipment for the hay hauling.
“The qualifications for submitting an application for hay hauling assistance are that ranchers need to reside in a D2 (severe drought) zone or higher, or have been affected by wildfire,” he said. “Based on the current drought map and recent wildfire activity, we imagine most of our applications will be submitted from eastern Montana or the western Dakotas.”
Erdmann said they are also asking any ranchers who might have a load or two of hay available to donate to let Farm Rescue know.
“Many ranchers in the Dakotas and eastern Montana are dealing with similar issues, so we may need to venture further out with our trucks to obtain donated hay. There’s a good chance that the demand for hay will be greater than our supply of donated feed, so we’ll be accepting applications on a first come, first served basis,” he said.
Priority over that donated hay will be given to ranchers in D3 zones or higher, or those who have been impacted by wildfire.
“If donated hay is not available for all applicants, they would also have the option of receiving hauling assistance for hay they coordinate/purchase on their own,” he said.
Farm Rescue is also asking for hay donations, volunteer CDL drivers, and monetary gifts to offset the cost of Farm Rescue’s volunteer food and lodging expenses.
If donating online, please select “Operation Hay Lift” from the dropdown menu.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those suffering from these natural disasters,” said Bill Gross, founder and president of Farm Rescue. “Please consider donating funds or hay so we can deliver hope to these families in the midst of crisis.”
In addition, planting season has arrived. Those farmers affected by natural disaster, serious illness or injury can apply for seeding assistance or neighbors and relatives can apply for them.
Those wanting to apply for assistance, sign up to be a volunteer CDL driver, or make a monetary donation can visit farmrescue.org or call 701-252-2017.