After helping farmers in southwestern states this spring, members of the Michigan Ag Relief
now have their sights set on relief help to North Dakota
(Thumb Region) – Members of the Michigan Ag Community are at it again. The group sent several convoys of trucks loaded with relief items to western states devastated by wildfires earlier this spring. Last week, members of the organization traveled 4,000 miles in six days to present two scholarships to 4-H youth at the Meade County Fair.
The group then had breakfast with ranchers and the Secretary’s of Agriculture from Kansas and Oklahoma, hearing gut-wrenching stories of how the fires swept through the area, destroying, homes, barns and ranchers livelihoods.
Late last week, they loaded up an enclosed van filled with donations from Ashland ranchers and headed to fire ravaged Montana with a load of relief items.
While in Ashland, a John Deere Gator was delivered for ranchers to use to rebuild their fences.
Now the group, hundreds of members strong, is planning a large convoy to drought-stricken North and South Dakota August 17th and is once again looking for donations of hay and semi-trucks to haul them, to convoy to a central drop-off point at North Dakota State University.
Michigan Ag Relief organizer Matt Schaller, who was the originator of the first relief efforts that had hundreds of trucks hauling hay to fellow farmers wrote the following on his Facebook page:
“I just wanted to give everyone a little update on what we are trying to do for the drought that they’re dealing with out west this summer. Almost 2 weeks ago we were contacted by the North Dakota department of agriculture. They were trying to come up with a way to help ranchers in their state deal with feed shortages. The idea of a hay lottery was put on the table. After some thought it really seemed like the only fair way to distribute the donations that may come in. I mean, how do you pick and choose who might get a load of hay when 1/3 of the state is in need?
It was only a few days after we decided to haul hay to Fargo for the lottery that the Lodgepole fire complex in Montana made the news. When you hear about guys going through the same type of tragedy that they faced just months ago in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas it really makes you stop and wonder how you can help everyone. But there’s a problem with that.
There is no perfect solution to this!
There will be people that get missed. My hope for them is neighbors continue to look out for each other and bring that to our attention. That way we can get something sent their way
There may be someone that gets hay and shouldn’t. I pray this doesn’t happen and that people are honest when applying for the lottery. Truth is, we have no idea what each individual is facing. I do believe that a large majority of men and women in this industry are honest.
Some may feel like this drought is just too big and their needs are so great, what will my load of hay do to help. What I learned from our trip last week was that it may not even be the hay… it’s the hope you give these people! It’s turning on the news to see Farmers on one side of the country helping Farmers on the other side. It’s waking up in the morning and looking out over the land they feed their families on and wondering how they’re going to make it through, then realizing there’s people all over the country doing what they can to help them put one foot in front of the other. We may be just another drop in the bucket, but if we all put in a few drops pretty soon that bucket begins to fill….
If you want to Donate or Volunteer please feel free to contact me.”
Sanilac Broadcasting will continue to follow this story.