Hay replacement efforts continue

BY GEORGE PIPER | TEXAS | September 12, 1998


TEXAS (September 12, 1998) -- The drought is over for much of the southern United States, but deliveries

of hay are continuing for farmers who are still short on winter feed.

Farmers from New Chapel United Methodist Church (UMC) in Jeffersonville,

IN, located in Clark County across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY,

donated hay to South Carolina for the second time in five years. Meanwhile

Southern Baptist leaders in Texas and Missouri Baptist collaborated to get

hay from Missouri and Kansas to Texas.

The Indiana effort contributed more than 2,500, 50-pound square hay bales

-- about 62 tons, to Pelzer and Anderson, SC, with another 160 tons ready

to go, said Bob Schickel, field representative/program coordinator for the

Indiana Farm Bureau. Although South Carolina is now getting rain and growth

for its pastures, the earlier drought prevented farmers there from

harvesting hay used for winter feeding, said Schickel.

New Chapel UMC member Harold Armstrong and three other Clark County farmers

organized the first five shipments with help from IFB's Schickel. The

organization e-mailed all 92 Indiana counties to solicit hay for

drought-stricken farmers.

"We think that we're gonna be able to inspire other people to decide to

send some hay," said Armstrong. "I've been getting calls from people from

different counties saying, 'We've got hay. How do we do it?'"

The situation is similar to 1993, when then-New Chapel Pastor Doug Sanders

asked Armstrong if the long-time farmer could get a load of hay to help

struggling South Carolina farmers. Armstrong, who had been unaware the

state suffered that badly from the 1993 drought, spread the word at a 4-H

Fair event the next day, which led to an effort that eventually sent about

12,000 bales of hay from a half dozen states.

This year, Armstrong's son called from Atlanta and told his dad about

drought conditions in the south. That prompted a call to Tom Tranthum, who

distributed hay during the '93 delivery. Tranthum confirmed the need for

hay and was glad to hear Armstrong was again willing to help.

"We heard that they were really hurting and he said they were as bad off as

in '93 if not worse," Armstrong said.

Local companies donated the transportation: The Teamsters Local 89 of

Louisville, Bestway Trucking Co. of Clarksville, IN, and Keller

Manufacturing of Corydon, IN. Schickel and Armstrong are trying to secure

more transportation. "We've got hay waiting, but (we don't have) trucks

right now," Armstrong said.

Schickel also has talked with Texas Farm Bureau officials, and said future

hay loads may go to the Lone Star State.

Meanwhile Texas farmers are getting help thanks to a couple of Southern

Baptist ministers and the Texas Baptist Men.

The Rev. Tom Hemby of the Dover Baptist Church in Missouri, about 80 miles

north of St. Louis, contacted the Baptist General Convention of Texas to

see if the organization could work with a Texas congregation to send hay

there. That led Hemby to the Rev. Bob Ray of Fairy (Texas) Baptist Church,

located 90 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Through their efforts and the

funding and volunteers from Texas Baptist Men, about 120 tons of hay has

entered Texas in the past three weeks, and they don't foresee stopping any

time soon.

"We know there's a need, so we're trying to do what we can," said John La

Noue, the Texas Baptist Men director of adult men. Distribution is based on

need, not religious affiliation, noted La Noue.

The organization, an arm of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, whose

affiliation is with the Southern Baptist Convention, is renting

tractor-trailer units at $500 to $750 per truckload.

Hemby noticed a small article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a Texas

farmer desperate for hay. After discovering his rural congregation would be

more than willing contribute some of its excess feed, he decided to help a

similar Texas church.

"They are farmers and they know what hard times are like," said Hemby. "And

they remember when someone helped them."

Ray, who like Hemby is a bi-vocational minister (a pastor who has a

full-time regular job), said the people appreciate the free feed for their

cattle. Due to the hay shortage, Ray said the round bales that normally

cost $35 are going for $65 each.

"We think we've touched a lot of lives," he said. "We hope this act of

Christian love has touched people's lives so they'll be a little closer to

the lord."

Don Bullard, a deacon in Fairy, distributes three to five bales to each

farmer who comes calling. So far, 38 families have received donated hay.

Fairy church officials are photographing and videotaping the effort to

share with Dover families.

Both pastors see this display as a witness to Christ's work and hope others

see that message.

"We have a real opportunity to show Christ's love and we're trying to take

advantage of it," Ray said.

Earlier this year, the Ewing Christian Church, a member of the District 8

Christian Churches of Kentucky (Disciples of Christ), rallied area churches

and sent 229 tons of hay to Florida through Florida Interfaith Networking

in Disaster (FIND).

Jody Hill, executive director of FIND, said the state's agriculture

department allocated the hay to needy farmers. Florida, which suffered from

drought and wildfires, is now plagued by too much rain and army worms, said

Hill, which is making it difficult to harvest the current hay crop.

Posted September 11, 1998


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