It all started with a Facebook post, and then another, and still one more. Farmers and ranchers from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas were using the social media tool to post pictures and videos of the massive destruction of their farms as a result of wildfires fueled by low humidity and high winds in early March.
The fires, which killed seven people, burned nearly 750 square miles of pasture and displaced 10,000 cattle and horses in Texas alone.
John Canary of Franklin, Indiana, and other Farm Bureau members from Johnson County saw the posts and couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
“I kept reading about the devastation in Kansas and elsewhere and how the farmers and ranchers were struggling to feed their livestock because their pastures burned in the wildfires,” explained Canary. “I had to do something.”
That something is Canary’s efforts to collect and deliver more than 20 tons of hay to needy farmers and ranchers in Kansas. The hay was donated by Phil and Cindy Ramsey from Shelby County. Along with friends Andy Duckworth, who is Johnson County Farm Bureau president, and Johnson County residents Tyler Sneed and Justin Kaiser, Canary loaded the hay on four trailers and drove the 1,600 miles to the collection drop off in Ashland, Kansas. Since their trip, other Farm Bureau members have been asking how they could help.
In mid-March, the governors of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas declared states of emergency.
According to Texas Farm Bureau, while deliveries of hay and other materials such as fencing were extremely helpful early on, financial contributions are what are needed most at this point.
Texas Farm Bureau has taken the lead and has set up the “Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund,” a financial collection point for monetary donations from across the country. TFB has posted an application on its website. Any agricultural producer with an unreimbursed loss may qualify for assistance from the fund. If you would like to help fellow farmers and ranchers from the Panhandle, visit the Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund section of the Texas Farm Bureau website.