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Brian Cummings – Guest Contributor
Oct 21 2011
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Lee Mackay loads hay from Iowa

A petition urging urging Governor Rick Perry to help save struggling ranchers by using state resources to bring hay to Texas has garnered over 1,300 signatures since its posting at Change.org Sept. 25. The petition was started by Bob Williams, of Ranch Hand Rescue, a non-profit organization based in Argyle that houses, feeds, and cares for farm animals in distressed situations.

"We are in the middle of a hay crisis that will get worse before it gets better, Williams said noting that his organization is having trouble keeping up with the calls they are getting about abandoned farm animals.  "Hay has reached record costs and finding new resources is extremely difficult and expensive. Hay has tripled in price since July 2011," he added, causing many ranchers--especially the smaller ones--to simply abandon their animals.

Even when hay is found out of state, Williams says that the cost of transportation puts it out of reach.  "We brought in two semi-trailers of hay recently," he said,"and paid about $4 a mile for transportation." The petition asks the Governor to allocate state resources to help pay the cost of transportation.

The hay crisis has also prompted another Texas farming organization to come up with innovative ways to help.  The Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) has been working to raise money to handle the shipping of organic hay from Iowa that has been donated by Iowa farmers to their counterparts in Texas. The first delivery was made last week.

TOFGA president Sue Beckwith said that donations came in from across Texas and the U.S. to help pay for the trucking with the Iowa farming community raising over $1,000 and FarmAid adding a $2,500 grant. “Individual donors and Texas businesses donated over $2,000. Customers of Patina Green Home and Market in McKinney contributed $500 so we could get this hay to those who need it most,” she said. The hay was delivered to Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill in Elgin Oct. 17.

Both Williams and Beckwith say their organization will continue to work to help alleviate the hay crisis. TOFGA is accepting  donations on its web site while Williams is urging all Texans to sign the petition

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