District farmers yesterday began working on haying to help drought-stricken farmers out west and plans for shipment should be finalized after the Emo fair.
“I’ve been in contact with the ‘Hay West’ office in Ottawa and they’ll lobby to get us rail cars when we get a firm number,” said Kim-Jo Bliss. “Do we need five, 10 cars? We’ll know after the fair.
“By giving my neighbour five bales, we’re making a gesture,” she added. “Canadians should stick together.”
Rainy River First Nations also donated a field north of the reserve that volunteers will use specifically for the “Hay West” campaign.
“They started cutting the field [Tuesday],” Bliss said.
Emo Reeve Russ Fortier said the field would yield 400 or 500 bales in the past and, although it hasn’t been fertilized in a few years, it still should yield perhaps half that.
While Bliss noted some local farmers are short of hay themselves, she stressed this is a gesture of support for western farmers and only those who can spare hay are asked to donate.
“I’d like farmers to phone the Emo municipal office or the research station [to tell us] on how much hay they’ll provide,” said Reeve Fortier. “We have good farmers out here.
“My goal challenge is to have enough for 20 carloads to go west, somewhere around 1,200 bales.”
The Nor-West Animal Clinic recently donated $500 to the campaign.
Benefit concerts for farmers also will take place during the Thanksgiving weekend. Organizers hope to raise $1 million at “Say Hay” concerts in Edmonton on Oct. 13 and Calgary on Oct. 14.
Drought and grasshoppers have destroyed crops across Western Canada, forcing some farmers to sell their animals because they can’t afford to feed them.
On Monday, the U.S. Agriculture Department slashed estimated forecasts for grain and soybean production, which could push up food prices.
It also might put the cost of feed out of reach for some producers.