Feed costs soared this summer as crops wilted in the intense heat and the worst drought to hit the country since 1956. An analysis found that small dairy farms have been the worst hit in a time already complicated with abundant supplies and stagnant prices.  

With milk prices not expected to keep up with the ever-increasing feed costs, one group is stepping in to help relieve farmers facing the tough decision of selling their herds.  

According to the Times Reporter, the Mennonite Disaster Service’s Eastern Ohio/Northwestern Pennsylvania Unit issued a plea in early August requesting help to provide hay for these drought-stricken dairy farmers, even those not associated with the church-based nonprofit network.

Within 24 hours, calls were already coming in with offers of donations. 

Wyman Miller, one of the group’s donation coordinators, reported that one producer from Macon, Miss., “asked what we wanted, and by that afternoon he called back to tell us he had a load of donated hay ready.”

Another call from Vermont reported that 10 acres of hay would be ready to ship to Ohio as soon as it could be harvested.

Hay has gone out to farmers across several counties in Ohio already, and help is available to anyone who needs it.

As more donations flow into the group, the next move will involve coordinating shipping.

“A caller found a quality load of hay in Colorado, but it would cost $1.75 per mile in transportation costs just to get it here – about $2,600 total,” Miller said.

As a former dairy farmer, Miller knows the hardships facing the dairies. 

“It’s their livelihood,” Miller told the Times Reporter. “This is especially hard-hitting for those who haven’t been established for very many years. We’re trying to help them hang in there.”