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Truckers haul in tons of hay to Ag park to help area producers

April 3, 2019

About a dozen semi-trucks traveled as far as 200 miles - most in a single-file line - on Tuesday making their way to Ag Park in Columbus.

Loaded on these trucks was several tons of hay that is being distributed to Platte County area farmers whose livestock is in need of the vital substance in the weeks following the severe March flooding.

Charles Earnest, a driver for S R Farms out of Wilsonville, said that people from Wilsonville, McCook, Bartley, Cambridge and even a truck from South Dakota, made the trek to Columbus to be of assistance.

“We are trying to help farmers up here, there are so many who need it (hay) because of the flood,” Earnest said, while waiting to unload the numerous hay bales piled on his semi. “All of this is donated – the trucking and hay, just from different people around the (McCook) area. We are just out here trying to help out.”

Earnest noted that dozens of people in his neck of the woods collaborated for more than a week preparing for the drop. From wrangling up trucks and volunteers, to coordinating with farmers who donated bales, he said it was a real team effort.

“We know the need is here so we just brought it up to help with that,” he said, noting his company did something similar a few years back to aid Kansas producers after a fire tore through a portion of the state. “That’s really what it’s all about. Just getting it to them so their cattle can get fed.”

Jill Goedeken of Nebraska Extension-Platte County said that the generosity will pay dividends in terms of allowing numerous producers to tend to the needs of their livestock.

“Our flood recovery effort from a producer standpoint really is more of a marathon than a sprint,” she said. “But the hay and the feed is an immediate need as we get more into the spring and summer months. Just with the conditions of our pastures there may be a long-standing need, and there is also the issue of how much hay farmers will be able to produce because of the flooding.”

One local farmer appreciative of the undertaking is Ed Klug. Klug said that he owns land east of Columbus and that he is a member of the Nebraska Cattlemen. He added that he also serves on the organization’s state board.

On Tuesday, Klug made his way around the Ag Park lot and spoke to several people expressing his gratitude. He said that his property was affected some, but nothing like some producers to the west and north of Platte County.

“When I saw all these trucks coming in I wanted to give them a big ‘Thank You,’” he said. “Just to tell them that it is really appreciated what they are doing.”

USDA provides support

During one of the worst weather events in Nebraska, the citizens of Nebraska have come together and helped each other in tremendous ways. With neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger and people from out of state sending supplies and donations to help rebuild, the resilience of Nebraskans shows through.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also on the ground to help Nebraskans as they recover and rebuild. There are many programs available to everyone, including farmers and ranchers. For a list of all the programs available, go to https://www.usda.gov/topics/disaster.

In Nebraska, USDA has several crews conducting aerial surveillance in the federal designated disaster areas looking for stranded livestock. If you see stranded or deceased livestock, please report it to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality at 877-253-2603. USDA has contractors in place to remove livestock carcasses.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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