Hay donation will benefit area ranchers
By Cindy Mullet
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
Hay donated by Farm Bureau members in Minnesota will be on its way to six Dawson County ranchers this week.
According to Dawson/Wibaux County Farm Bureau President Gene Evans, Wadena County (Minnesota) Farm Bureau President Craig Neil and Vice-President Brian Roth initiated the hay lift idea.
While Evans had never met Neil nor Roth, the Minnesota men have been coming out to Eastern Montana to hunt birds for 20 years. During that time they have gotten to know a number of Dawson County ranchers. This fall when they came to hunt they saw the effects drought had on the area and heard their friends talk about the tough decisions they were facing.
In a story written for the Independent News Herald of Clarissa, Minn., Roth noted they were told producers have culled some cattle because they didn’t have feed for them and others were sending their cattle to out-of-state feed lots.
“They are living on reserves from a year ago,” he said.
Minnesota had an excellent hay crop last year, and they decided they needed to share their bounty, Evans said. Through Farm Bureau connections Neil and Roth contacted Evans and started working with him to make hay available to local Farm Bureau members.
In Minnesota, Neil and Roth coordinated with Farm Bureaus in Wadena, Cass, Todd, and East Otter Tail counties, asking for donations of hay or cash to pay for hay. They were surprised at the interest generated with calls even coming from northern Minnesota. According to the Wadena County Farm Bureau Facebook page, the donated hay was collected Feb. 6-8.
Midwest Machinery, the John Deere dealer in Wadena, worked with the Farm Bureau members, offering to help unload and store the donated hay and then help load it for transport to Montana. They also offered to match cash donations up to $500, according to a note on the Facebook page.
Their donation deadline corresponded with the Glendive Agriculture Trade Exposition last weekend. Local Farm Bureau members who had not contacted Evans before then were encouraged to stop by the Farm Bureau booth at GATE to sign up for a load of hay, Evans explained.
The Minnesota effort yielded six loads of hay with 34 bales of hay to a load and Evans had six ranchers sign up to receive the hay. They had planned to hold a drawing if they had more people sign up than they had loads of hay, but since it came out even, everyone who signed up received hay, he added.
By Sunday evening, Evans had contacted all those receiving a load of hay, and they were busy lining up trucks to bring the hay from Minnesota to Montana. Local ranchers were responsible to arrange transportation for the hay and they wanted to have it all picked up the week of Feb. 11-17, he explained.
Last year’s drought hit everyone really hard and cold temperatures this winter haven’t helped. When it’s this cold, the cows need a little extra, he noted.
“We know we can’t send hay to everybody that needs it, but we do know that there is a need in that particular area because of the relationships we have. That’s how we came to the decision to try and help these people, Roth said in the Independent News story.
“I’m sure the need is much bigger than that … We are not under the illusion we are going to provide all the hay that’s needed out there. They have a need and we are trying to step up and do our part,” he added.
The hay lift is something new for the Minnesota Farm Bureau members and also for the Dawson/Wibaux County Farm Bureau. “It’s the first time for Dawson County,” Evans noted, adding that the donation from the Minnesota Farm Bureau members is much appreciated.
Reach Cindy Mullet at