An Alberta farmer is urging his fellow producers to return a 10-year-old favour when Ontario sent thousands of hay bales west during a drought.

"They sent it here, why can't we send it there?" said Richard Hillmer, a Fort Assiniboine farmer who donated nearly $1,000 worth of hay.

"It's been 10 years and a lot of people have forgotten or maybe a lot of the people that received hay 10 years ago are out of the business now ... but I just think it's pay-back time, that's all."

Hillmer said other farmers around Alberta need to answer the call for help.

"It's a terrible feeling. If you spend the money on the cows, how do you put food on the table for your kids?

"I was in that situation once and I never want to be in it again."

About 5,000 bales of hay have been sent through the Hay East program so far.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has estimated farmers in the province need 50,000 bales of hay from the west to make up for the amount of hay they have lost.

 In 2002 more than 100,000 large bales of hay were delivered to desperate Alberta farmers from Ontario during the worst drought in more than 125 years.