People Behind Canada`s Largest Farmer to Farmer Relief Effort
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
It`s an act of kindness that shouldn`t go unnoticed – the volunteers behind the 2012 HayEast campaign that saw Western Canadian farmers donating thousands of bales of hay to help drought stricken livestock farmers in Ontario.
The HayEast campaign was coordinated by a number of farm organizations across the country, including the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. The program is reciprocal of the HayWest program from 2002 that saw thousands of Eastern Canadian farmers sending hay to Western Canada to alleviate the drought.
A Mount Brydges mechanic, Bert Bloemendal is being hailed as one of the many heroes behind the HayEast campaign. Bloemendal, a mechanic by trade who also runs a small trucking business, got involved in the campaign unexpectedly when he was trying to figure out what to haul back home from a trip to Western Canada. He connected with HayEast campaign after his son mentioned that western farmers were looking for ways to transport hay to farmers in Ontario. He was able to manage to load 30 round bails in his truck and deliver it to Ontario. He was also instrumental in getting his friends in the trucking industry to get involved too - which resulted in several more shipments successfully reaching Ontario farmers.
It costs roughly $4,000 to ship loads of this size from Regina to Ontario and from Edmonton $7,000. But fortunately, many trucking companies donated the transportation costs or cut their fees. Both the Ontario and federal governments have pledged $500,000 to help with transportation costs.
The effort is still ongoing and about 40 loads are en route to deliver bales of hay this week, with the majority of the shipments going to farmers in the Ottawa Valley and Peterborough. Donations are still being considered. More information can be found on the HayEast website at http://www.hayeast2012.com/