NEWS

Hay from Manitoba farmer reaches parched Alberta ranch

07/28/2015 01:44 EDT | Updated 07/28/2016 05:59 EDT
The first shipment of hay from Manitoba has reached drought-stricken farmers in Alberta after a company volunteered to ship it across the prairies.

"It's so incredible that someone in Manitoba would think of the small guys out in Alberta," said farmer Sue Jennings after she helped unload the hay. "And a huge thank you for the trucking company. I'm speechless and humbled all at the same time."

Some ranchers in parts of Alberta are having trouble feeding their cattle because of drought conditions.

Manitoba farmer Jurgen Kohler told CBC earlier this month that he wanted to donate 75 bales, saying those with surplus feed should help out others in parts of Canada that are suffering.

But he needed help with the shipping. Dry conditions have pushed the price of hay from about $40 or $50 to $200 per bale, and transportation costs are also up steeply too.

Matt Einarson, a managing director with Winnipeg's EMF Nutrition, said he heard about Kohler's donation while listening to the radio.

"We thought if there was ever an opportunity to support our industry, to support local farmers, this is it," said Einarson.

"It's not just Alberta — we see this in western parts of Saskatchewan too. It's really bad out there and we are having a great growing season in Manitoba, [although] I hate to say it, I hate rubbing it in." 

The company shipped 30 bales this week. Sue and Rob Jennings unloaded the hay on Monday at her family's small cattle farm near Sundre.

"I got a phone call saying that we would be one of the families receiving some hay and I think I almost fainted," she said.

Without the feed, she would have had to sell off some of her animals. "This is, for us, a godsend. It's going to help us immensely."

Jennings plans to "pay it forward" whenever she gets a chance.

More shipments of hay from Manitoba are expected to reach the province this month as the movement to help Alberta farmers grows.

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