OTTAWA – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has begun work on a new “Hay West” initiative to send surplus hay from farmers on the East Coast to those in the West struggling with a dire shortage due to devastating and prolonged drought conditions.
“We have our staff as well as a third-party working towards determining how much of a hay surplus is available, and are looking to work with the railways and the government to help these farmers that are in dire need of feed for their animals,” said CFA President Mary Robinson of the new Hay West program whose early stages were announced Aug. 10.
The new effort follows a tradition of cross-country farmer-to-farmer assistance. The first Hay West happened in 2002 when prairie farmers faced similar circumstances. Ten years later, western farmers reciprocated by sending hay east to help farms stricken with drought.
CFA believes the 2021 edition “will help ease some of the stress that Western farmers are dealing with,” said Robison, who also made a pitch for the Climate Action Fund “as the kind of support that farmers need to continue investing in … as they face these incredibly difficult circumstances.”
“It can be hard for farmers to invest further in sustainability as climate change impacts greatly affect their financial situations,” the CFA president acknowledged.
Organizers will provide more information on the latest Hay West push as details become available. They intend to work closely with the government and other stakeholders to ensure surplus hay reaches those that need it.