- Southern Ontario farmers are sending hay shipments to their agricultural peers in Saskatchewan.
- The major drought in Western Canada has left farmers without enough hay for winter.
- Ontario farmers began shipping donations to the West in efforts led by the non-profit.
Southern Ontario farmers are sending hay shipments to their agricultural peers in Saskatchewan to help them feed livestock following a summer drought that severely affected crop production.
The major drought in Western Canada has left farmers without enough hay for winter.
This fall, Ontario farmers began shipping donations to the West in efforts led by the non-profit Mennonite Disaster Services Canada (MDS). In addition, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) has taken up the exact cause with its initiative launched earlier this year.
The recipients of the MDS donations are not chosen based on religious affiliation, according to the organization.
“We’re helping our brothers and sisters that are suffering out there,” said Lester Weber, MDS Canada’s Ontario unit secretary. “We felt this was one way that we could help them back as they helped us.”
Weber said that in 2012 when Ontario suffered through its drought, farmers in Saskatchewan stepped in to help.
“They simply loaded up the trucks and sent hay this way because they heard of our need.”
He said the group has been receiving donations from farmers in Waterloo Region, Niagara, and other parts of southern Ontario. In addition, they’re bound for communities across south Saskatchewan — including Chaplin, Wood Mountain and Maple Creek.
“We’re hearing from our folks in Saskatchewan that the need is astronomical,” said Weber. “It’s probably more than we can comprehend as a smaller community here in southern Ontario, just the vastness of the Prairies and the vastness of the need.”
The group is charging a fee for the hay to cover shipping costs that have been discounted, said Weber.
Fifty-seven Saskatchewan farmers have so far requested hay, said Weber. Thirteen loads of grass, each with about 50 bails, have already been shipped.
“Farmers help farmers,” John Longhurst of MDS Canada said from its headquarters in Winnipeg. “It doesn’t matter whether that’s a farmer who’s a neighbour up the road or a farmer who’s a couple of provinces away.”
He said he expects that more regularly in the coming years; he can call on mutual aid.
Longhurst said the frequency of disasters, like droughts, which his organization has responded to, has been increasing yearly, something he attributes to the climate crisis.
“There’s just more, and more and more,” he said. “They’re growing in number every year.”
The following shipments of Ontario hay are set to leave Clinton, Ont. for Saskatchewan this Friday.
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