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Boundary County Farm Bureau members help Montana ranchers

Boundary County Farm Bureau members help Montana ranchers

Bonners Ferry—The Lodgepole Complex Fire in Montana has destroyed more than 270,000 acres of prime rangeland near Jordan, Montana and it’s creating a hardship for ranchers.

North Idaho farmers and ranchers heard about the urgent needs of ranchers and decided to pitch in. Boundary county Farm Bureau member Kristy Kellogg put together an Idaho hay lift to help.

“We have a lot of neighbors that are ranchers here in Boundary County and they wanted to help out, so they donated hay. We also had Farm Bureau members that donated semi-trucks and they even hauled the hay over there at their expense,” said Kellogg.

Kellogg says the response was so over-whelming that they had more hay than trucks.

“Its sad that couldn’t get all of it over there. It was hard getting it delivered but we ended up sending more than 135 tons of hay,” said Kellogg.

Montana ranchers need at least 34,000 tons to feed 7,700 head of cattle this winter, up till the grazing turnout date of June 1, 2018.

Emergency hay donations started coming in since July 24, not only from Idaho but throughout the West.

“The first rounds came from the drought stricken neighbors who provided hay despite having none to spare,” said Montana rancher Deena Shotzberger. “Caravans of hay continue to come in from all over Montana and adjacent states, some as far away as New Mexico.”

Thousands of cattle survived the wildfire after ranchers cut fences, allowing herds to escape but now face the threat of starvation and dehydration. Ranchers are trying to collect their herds but they have no where to graze and the challenges are just starting.

Kellogg is spreading the word of rancher hardships through social media. Hooking up ranchers with volunteers to help drive cattle, share pastureland and donate hay.

“With the help of Kristy Kellogg, who called farmers and ranchers that we didn’t reach by social media,” said Shawn Watt of Kalispell. “I feel like we are going to make a difference to ranchers over there. We have had offers of Drivers and offers of fencing supplies and of course we have had offers of hay. Getting hay there is the biggest hurdle we have. It is over 1200 miles for the Boundary County folks, so this is no small ask.”

Kellogg says the slideshow went viral and she’s humbled by the out pouring of help from Idahoans.

“All I did is make a little slide show on my County Facebook page and tons of people shared it,” said Kellogg. “It’s really cool because we started hearing all the comments back from the people in the affected areas. Things like ‘thank you so much’, we were called angels and that they were grateful for the help.”

Federal assistance and emergency loans are available to producers in fire areas.

“Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) is trying to expedite the process, but the funds are still several months out, and will only cover a portion of the losses,” said Shotzberger. “So Northern Idaho and Northwest Montana must continue to step up and help our brother and sister Montanans until then.”