Wisconsin Family Farmers, Music Industry and Farm Aid Band Together to Help Drought-Stricken Oklahoma Farmers

Aug 25, 2011, 12:57 ET from Farm Aid

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Trucks carrying hay donated by Wisconsin farmers arrive today in Oklahoma City to assist farmers and ranchers devastated by drought in the area. The plan came together at the annual Farm Aid concert, held Saturday, August 13, in Kansas City, Kan., where farmers shared stories of parched farmland and starved livestock.

"Farmers come to the Farm Aid concert from all over the country, and the natural disasters that have affected farmers this year were a common theme. Oklahoma farmers said their region had such terrible drought that many farmers and ranchers could not feed their herds and had no choice but to sell their animals," said Joel Morton, Farm Aid's Farm Advocate. "That's when the idea came together—farmers with hay would donate to farmers in need and Farm Aid would find a way to provide transportation."

The haylift is possible through the generosity of family farmers seeking to do what they can to help their fellow farmers. Wisconsin-based Family Farm Defenders put the call out for hay donations and farmers stepped up to the plate to deliver. Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund also took direct part in planning the haylift. The hay will be delivered to the Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, which is coordinating distribution.

"We've had fifty-two days straight of 100-degree weather and we just plain need hay," said Willard Tillman, executive director of the Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project. "We deeply appreciate the help and look forward to returning the favor should Wisconsin farmers ever be in trouble."

Also immediately answering the call to help family farmers are the professionals who produced the Farm Aid concert. Charlie Hernandez, Farm Aid's 2011 concert production manager, is the founder of Just a Bunch of Roadies, a coalition of companies and individuals in the live touring industry formed in 2010 in response to the Haiti earthquake. Within hours of receiving Farm Aid's request for transportation, Hernandez had secured two trucks donated by Shomotion LLC, a company providing specialized transportation and logistics solutions for touring acts and special event production.

Other parts of the U.S. have been drastically impacted by drought and Farm Aid hopes this will be the first of a number of haylifts. If you would like to donate, or have hay or transportation to make available, please contact Farm Aid at (617) 354-2922 or farmhelp@farmaid.org.    

Farm Aid's mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid's work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $39 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.