Local News

Hay Alert Program Helping Farmers Hurt By Drought

Posted October 30, 2002

— While water use restrictions are easing in many communities, thousands of cattle still do not have enough feed to make it through the winter.

Half a dozen state agencies are pulling together to try to relieve some of the pain brought on by the drought.

Just after daybreak, a truck pulls into Jimmy Rose's hay field in Johnston County. The driver arrives to pick up a load bound for cattle left hungry by the drought.

"This is millet hay. We had a right good crop and I just got more than I need," Rose said.

Rose contracted to sell the hay to farmers who could not grow the feed they needed this year. The Department of Agriculture helped Rose find buyers through its

Hay Alert Program

.

"So many of our farmers today are desperate for hay and we have some hay available in the lower southern part of our state. So the program is just working well in identifying those that have hay with those who don't have hay," said Joe Reardon of the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

Once a buyer and seller work out a deal, the state swings into action.

The most important role the Department of Agriculture and other state agencies could provide is helping to move the giant bales of hay. They are heavy, bulky, and sometimes the transportation costs more than the hay itself.

Trucks from several state agencies move the hay to farmers who would have to sell their cows if they could not feed them through the winter. Governor Easley temporarily waived width restrictions for vehicles moving hay.

"It's helped me and it's helped the other people that need hay," Rose said.

The hay will help farmers hurt by the drought, but that will not be enough to make this year a hay ride.

Buyers and sellers can go

online

or call (888) 316-8451 for more information.

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