Western farmers may return hay favour to easterners
Ontario farmers could receive deliveries of hay from prairie farmers, returning favour from 2002
Prairie farmers could be sending hay to Ontario farmers to help them through the summer drought, a decade after 110,000 tonnes were sent by easterners to help their western counterparts.
Volunteers have been touring Ontario farmland to find the hardest hit by the unusually dry conditions. They are looking to help them out by bringing hay East, instead of sending these farmers money.
"At some point, the cost of hay makes feeding the animals ludicrous, so you're throwing money down the drain," said Glenn Buck, chairman of Ontario's Mennonite Disaster Service.
Buck said money does not help farmers buy hay. The transfer of hay itself is more logical and makes more financial sense.
In 2002, for example, farmers in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan were hit by a devastating drought. But in Ontario, crops were plentiful, so hay was sent to western farmers.
Buck received a phone call from a farmer who used to live in eastern Ontario, but has moved to Western Canada. That farmer said he had excess hay and wanted to help those struggling in Ontario.
Farmer hopes for good karma
Wyatt McWilliams, who owns a farm in Navan, on the eastern outskirts of Ottawa, sent hay West 10 years ago along with his father.
Now, he says the possibility of hay donations from prairie farmers is a heartening proposition.
"Fellow farmers are always trying to help each other," he said.
"Hay West was the Canadian spirit. A lot of people got behind the initiative and helped out. We certainly appreciate any help we can get because it's going to be a long winter."
A meeting was held Wednesday to help co-ordinate shipping costs and how hay would be distributed.
The Hay East campaign is currently in the "investigation" phase, Buck said.
He added the transportation will most likely be using trains and it is still unknown where and how much hay will be transported to the East.
The Ontario Mennonite Disaster Service also said it has been contacted by organizers of a Farm Aid concert for Sept. 16.More financial help could come via that avenue, as well.