The district version of the federal “Hay West” campaign continues to build momentum.
Last week, the Northwestern Animal Clinic donated $500, while Rainy River First Nation will lend a field in the northern part of the reserve to allow farmers to bale more hay for drought-stricken farmers in the west.
“Animals are a pretty big part of our life,” said Colleen Eyolfson, a Northwestern Animal clinic technician. “We did it because we like animals and it’s our way of helping.”
Plans should be close to being finalized sometime after the Emo Fair, said Kim-Jo Bliss, research station manager.
“I’m working on getting volunteers to cut and bale [the Rainy River First Nation field]”, she said, adding that she has a few volunteers already for cutting, baling, and raking, but would like some more.
Last week, the federal government announced assistance to the campaign—a voluntary effort by local farmers and businesses to ship donated hay from eastern Ontario and western Quebec to Alberta and Saskatchewan where prolonged periods of drought have left many farmers unable to produce enough feed for their livestock.
The federal government will cover the costs of the fumigation of the donated hay to avoid the spread of the cereal leaf beetle, a pest not found in Prairie provinces that could have negative impacts on future exports of hay and other crops. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is overseeing the fumigation.
The government will also reimburse some of the costs associated with loading the donated hay; and the Canadian Forces will provide logistical advice on the coordination and loading of the donated hay at the rail head.
“The Hay West campaign demonstrates the very best in the Canadian spirit—the desire to come to the aid of fellow citizens in times of trouble,” said Minister of State and leader of the government in the House of Commons, Don Boudria.
“I commend the farmers, volunteers, and businesses who have pulled together to make the campaign possible. And I want to make special mention of the pledge by the CN rail and Ottawa Central Railway to transport the hay free of charge,” he added.
For many farmers, the donations of hay will allow them to avoid selling their herds of cattle. Rail cars of hay from Ontario pulled into Alberta this week. Hay lotteries and 25 more carloads of eastern hay are expected this week. Unlike Alberta and Saskatchewan, Ontario is having a good growing summer.
The cost of hay for feed has doubled from this time last year.