Iowa farmers helping drought-ridden Texas farmers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa farmers helping drought-ridden Texas farmers

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CLAYTON COUNTY (KWWL) -

Some Clayton County farmers are helping farmers in Texas, who are suffering severe drought.

The weather down south has made hay for livestock a sparse commodity.

The so-called Hay Lift Project began with Pastor Harold McMillin, of St. John ELCA Lutheran Church in Luana. He attended an ELCA church wide assembly in Florida, where some Texans there told him about the devastation of the drought.

Driven to help, according to the ELCA's Northeast Iowa Synod Website, "McMillin suggested a hay lift, and the three ELCA bishops from Iowa met with three ELCA bishops from Texas to plan a joint project. They decided to designate the Northeastern Iowa Synod as a pilot synod to get the hay lift project off the ground."

One parishioner, farmer Larry Schroeder, has had a good year for hay.

"More hay this year than I've ever had, I guess, might as well say," he said.

Monday morning, he helped a volunteer hay-hauler Randy Sherman load 14 bales of hay onto Sherman's flat bed trailer.

700 dollars' worth of Schroeder's hay is making its way to Texas on this trip. That's just one of several loads he's donating.

For this Iowa farmer, it's a matter of "paying it forward."

"Back in '88, we had a drought," he said. "Our yields were way down, so I kind of know what it's about. I've got a lot of feed this year, so I can give some."

According to the ELCA's Northeast Iowa Synod Website, Lutheran Disaster Relief is donating $25,000 to purchase hay and help pay for transportation costs. Even that dollar amount, however, doesn't cover everything.

"The church is funding a majority of the fuel," Sherman said, of his trip.

He donated his time and some of his own money to drive up with his flat bed trailer from his Oklahoma home.

"The Texas Hay Haulers Association on Facebook: I posted on there that I have a trailer and a truck and I'm willing to help, and a local pastor here sent me a message on Facebook and asked if I could come up," Sherman said.

Down in Oklahoma, he sees the drought firsthand.

"Driving up here, everything's pretty and green," He said of the Midwest. "Driving down there, everything is brown and dead, pretty much a dust bowl. It's very dry down there. The ponds are drying up, and there's just no water, no feed, no hay."

The ongoing drought in the southern plains is leaving all sorts of commodities in short supply.

The price of hay delivered to farmers has more than doubled since July of 2010. It has some farmers deciding between buying the hay, selling off cattle or moving them to rented, greener pastures.

Consequently, the added cost to farmers could mean eventual higher beef prices at the grocery store.

Along with the Northeast Iowa farmers' donations of hay come hopes and prayers that this drought's end is in sight.

"Just that they get rain," Schroeder said.

Project organizers with these ELCA Lutheran churches said they plan on providing hay to these Texas farmers and ranchers until they can once again use their own.

Sherman said he and the load of hay he's hauling should arrive at the Central Texas destination Tuesday afternoon.

If this initial effort is successful, organizer said, Iowa's two other ELCA synods will help organize hay lifts statewide.

To volunteer to donate or haul hay, contact Pastor Harold McMillin at 563.880.5052.

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