11/05/2012 11:57 EST | Updated 01/05/2013 05:12 EST

Feds, Ontario to split cost of getting emergency hay shipments from West

OTTAWA - Ontario and western Quebec farmers hit by a serious summer drought are getting government help to feed their livestock over the winter.

The federal and provincial governments say they will split the cost of contributing to private efforts to ship hay from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the drought-affected areas to the east.

The Hay East 2012 program, organized by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Mennonite Disaster Service, will receive an initial $500,000 in funding to pay for transporting the hay.

Both levels of government will also share in matching private donations, up to a maximum of $2.5 million dollars.

OFA president Mark Wales said Monday he was still awaiting details about what the governments consider to be qualifying private donations, but said he was happy with the announcement.

The Hay East campaign is similar to a program in 2002 where thousands of Eastern Canadian farmers donated hay to western producers who faced a similar drought.

Nearly 300 farmers have submitted requests to organizers of the drive for up to 70,000 large bales of hay.