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Virginia Hay Arrives In Western Ohio

July 3, 1988

COLDWATER, Ohio (AP) _ Trucks carrying some 2,000 bales of donated hay for drought-stricken farmers arrived here over the weekend as Virginia farmers returned a favor granted by their Ohio counterparts during a drought two years ago.

Four trucks rolled into this Mercer County village in western Ohio shortly before noon Saturday and about 50 farmers who were involved in the 1986 haylift to Virginia lined up for free hay.

Each farmer received 40 bales, or about enough to feed an average Mercer County herd of cows for one day. Virgil Dues, who operates a farm with about 200 head of cattle, was the first farmer to get his hay.

″One bale is good, two bales is better,″ Dues said. ″We’re going day-by- day. There is nothing we can do about (the drought) right now.″

Ralph Heyne, who operates a nearby cattle farm, said he donated about 1,500 bales to Virginia farmers in 1986 when the Southeast suffered a pasture- killing drought and farmers across the nation shipped donated hay by the trainload.

″At the time, I had a lot of hay in my barn and I thought it was the thing to do,″ said Heyne, who has about 350 head of cattle. ″It was an easy thing to do when my barn was full. I wish we were sending it down this time.″

Heyne said Ohio farmers were becoming more worried as the Midwest drought continues.

″Fuses are a little shorter around here than usual,″ he said. ″It’s a little harder to keep a smile on your face.″

After the hay arrived, Lt. Gov. Paul Leonard spoke by telephone to haylift organizer Eugene Morris, a U.S. Department of Agriculture soil specialist from Charlotte Court House, Va.

″We want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We’re at the point where every little bit helps. This is a good start, Mr. Morris,″ Leonard said.

″We expect this to be the beginning of a good thing. It shows that in any time of crisis we can depend on one another,″ Leonard said. ″Ohioans have never been so selfish that they wouldn’t help others in their time of need. And they’ve never been so proud that they would not accept help in their own time of need.″

Morris told Leonard and the farmers that he was trying to organize another haylift. Mercer County Extension Agent Nick Freeman said most local farmers would run out of hay before fall if the drought does not end soon.

″They’ve had to (sell) a lot of cattle by now,″ Freeman said. ″At the market, it’s a sad scene to watch farmers bring in cows they don’t want to sell. It’s having an emotional impact on the community.″

The trucks, donated by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., left Charlotte County, Va., Friday. Goodyear also provided drivers and paid transportation costs.

Another haylift reached Cloverdale, Ind., on Friday with bales of hay donated by South Carolina farmers and trucked in by volunteer off-duty Charleston, S.C., cops. ″Our hay yield is down and what we’re using now is what should be used next winter,″ farmer Ed Meek said.

Haylifts also are operating elsewhere across the nation.

Fifteen railroad cars of hay are being provided by ″Feed the Children,″ a hunger relief agency in Oklahoma, to farmers in South Dakota, with the first load arriving at Aberdeen in two weeks. The Burlington Northern Railroad is providing free transportation.