Oklahoma is in the grips of its worst drought since the 1920s, and in response Family Farm Defenders, with support from Farm Aid, Rural Coalition, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Southern Federation of Cooperatives, are organizing an emergency Midwest hay lift.
This rapid response mirrors earlier solidarity efforts which delivered over a dozen Wisconsin tractors to Federation farmers in Mississippi and Louisiana following the destruction of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Wisconsin farmers were compelled to take action after hearing first hand accounts of parched farmland and starving livestock from their Oklahoma colleagues attending the Farm Aid Concert in Kansas City, KS this last weekend.
“If we can get enough hay to some of these farmers to save their animals it may help to save their farms. Desperation sales of livestock are usually a disaster. In the past farmers from other parts of the country rushed hay shipments to help Midwest farmers suffering from a drought. When other farmers face the prospect of being driven off the land we need to do something in solidarity,” said John Kinsman, president of Family Farm Defenders.
“Oklahoma family farmers, and especially, African American and American Indian producers, are very grateful for the support of the producers of Family Farm Defenders and other groups who have stepped up to save our farms in this time of need,” said Willard Tillman, Executive Director of Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, who is coordinating distribution in OK in cooperation with Randall Ware of the Kiowa Nation.
Livestock auctions in Oklahoma are being overwhelmed as ranchers get rid of their animals before they starve, and these desperation sales are hurting prices for other livestock producers nationwide. Predictions of depressed crop harvests across the Panhandle are also wreaking havoc in the commodity markets.
Teamster truck drivers are being recruited to deliver the hay to Oklahoma from Wisconsin as soon as tractor-trailer trucks can be secured. Hay and other feed supplies will be delivered to 2620 Coltrane Rd. in Oklahoma City.
Any type of quality hay – small bales or large round/square bales – is welcome. Those wishing to donate hay should contact John Kinsman #608-986-3815 or Randy Jasper #608-553-2203 for the exact time and location for drop off.
Financial contributions are also welcome to support the hay lift effort. Send checks to: Family Farm Defenders, P.O. Box 1772, Madison, WI 53701 with “hay lift” in the memo line. FFD is a registered charitable organization so any gift is also tax deductible.
You can also make an online donation towards the Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project’s Disaster Response via the Rural Coalition website: http://ruralco.org/