By Rebecca Colnar
Wadena County (Minnesota) Farm Bureau President Craig Neil and Vice President Brian Roth love bird hunting in Dawson County (Montana) and enjoy the community. During a visit with ranchers in the Dawson/Wibaux County Farm Bureau, they heard about the record-breaking drought taking place in Montana. The idea for organizing a hay lift surfaced.
“Craig and I have been coming to Dawson County to bird hunt for 20 years. We thought it would be great to help Farm Bureau members experiencing this terrible drought,” noted Roth. “At our Wadena County Farm Bureau meeting, we talked about having a hay lift, which was very well received. We thought there may be other county Farm Bureaus who would want to help, as well.”
What resulted is not only Wadena County Farm Bureau, but Cass, East Ottertail and Todd County Farm Bureaus solicited hay donations for Farm Bureau member ranchers in Dawson County. Six tractor-trailer loads of hay—upland grass, alfalfa and mixed—wended their way from central Minnesota to the southeastern edge of Montana the week of Feb. 12.
To make the distribution fair, voting (producer) members of Dawson/Wibaux County Farm Bureau could put their name in a raffle, with names being drawn at the Farm Bureau booth during the Glendive Agricultural Trade Exhibition show Feb. 10. Six names were drawn for six tractor-trailer loads of hay.
The special event served as a recruiting tool, as well. Non-members were encouraged to stop by the booth, join Farm Bureau and put their name in the raffle. “Getting a load of hay for $75 is a great deal,” noted Dawson/Wibaux County Farm Bureau President Gene Evans while working the booth.
“We truly appreciate what Minnesota farmers have done to help our farmers and ranchers in need. The outpouring of donations was phenomenal,” noted Evans. “You couldn’t find any nicer people in the world.”
“We know that Mother Nature is in charge, and there are a lot of elements outside of our control in farming and ranching,” said Roth. “It was an easy decision for our county Farm Bureaus to come together to help them out. We don’t think of it as being anything special. We just do it because we know it is the right thing to do.”
Rebecca Colnar is Director of Public Relations for Montana Farm Bureau.