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Helping farmers overcome flood challenges

Helping farmers overcome flood challenges

Producers collect and send truckloads of supplies to farmers in need

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

U.S. farming communities are coming together to help fellow producers affected by severe flooding.

The combination of heavy rain and melting snow has caused flooding in Nebraska and parts of Missouri and Iowa.

In Nebraska alone, damage estimates are in the billions of dollars, NPR reported.

From an ag perspective, the state has suffered about US$400 million of livestock damage and US$440 million of crop losses, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture said.

Around the country, farmers are doing what they can to help.

Steve Kloos, a producer from Edgar, Wis., recently returned from Nebraska, where he saw the flood damage first hand.

“All the roads were out and the flooding was going on and I sat down there for a day,” he told WSAW yesterday.

Upon his return home, Kloos sent out text messages to local farmers asking for supplies. Within two hours, farmers donated two loads of hay and more was coming, he said.

The community rallying around farmers in need was impressive, given the local shortage of hay.

“There is no hay in (Wisconsin’s) Marathon County to be had and, if there is, it is very expensive,” Kevin Iczkowski, a producer who contributed to the hay donation, told WSAW. “Steve Kloos got on the phone and filled a semi. It’s very, very humbling.”

North Dakota’s farming community is also collecting hay for Nebraska livestock producers.

Farm Rescue, which helps farms and ranches “bridge crises,” has dubbed the project Operation Hay Lift. The organization is also looking for volunteer CDL drivers to transport the hay to drop-off locations.

“We looked at ways we could assist in addition to our normal operations of the planting, haying and harvesting, and we noticed hay hauling was going to be a difficult operation to get back to them,” Dan Erdmann, marketing communications officer with Farm Rescue, told KFYRTV on Tuesday.

Like producers in Wisconsin and North Dakota, Pennsylvania farmers are collecting and donating supplies for Nebraska’s ag community.

Farmers need these supplies to keep their animals safe, said Clay Koser, a member of the Lycoming County Farm Bureau.

“The animals are suffering without the hay, and feed and fence supplies. They just have nothing,” he told Eyewitness News yesterday.

Michigan’s ag community is also sending supplies to farmers.

Ag Community Relief, which helps bring relief to farmers that “experience devastation,” is accepting donations of several items to transport to producers in Nebraska.

“We’ve put together a truckload, a trailer of different things like care kits, first aid kits, personal hygiene kits (and) things for animals,” Jenna Schaller, treasurer of Ag Community Relief, told WNEM yesterday.

Even fellow Nebraskans are doing what they can to help farmers and others affected by the flooding.

Alex Stepanek, who grew up on a farm near St. Paul, Neb., put together a collage of photos of the flood damage on social media and decided to ask people for donations.

He’s since raised almost US$250,000. He wants at least one third, or US$83,000, of the amount to go straight to ag relief. The rest of the money should be distributed to other communities, he said.

In times of need, Nebraska is one big community, he said.

“Growing up in a small town, you have that feeling of community of wanting to help each other,” he said, NewsChannel 5 reported. “And I think all of Nebraska is like that in total, especially in times of crisis. And so, I think this was a great time for Nebraska to come together.”

Reuters photo

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