Six loads have been delivered since the program started in September, with four more loads to go.
“It’s moving along pretty well,” said Lester Weber of MDS Ontario, who is helping to co-ordinate the project.
He said more farmers are donating hay and expects the organization will reach its goal of sending 50 loads to Saskatchewan.
About 45 farmers have applied for hay, said Ike Epp, who is helping co-ordinate shipments in Saskatchewan.
“Those two individuals (who received the latest loads) were very grateful for not only the hay itself, but simply for the knowledge that someone else is concerned about their welfare and is prepared to help them. So it’s been an uplifting experience from that end,” he said.
One of those loads, 51 square bales, arrived at Wes Myketiak’s cow-calf operation near Chaplin.
“I really appreciate the bales I got, that’s for sure,” he said.
“This year it took three acres to make one bale so if you pencil that out it’s a disaster.”
Myketiak is planning to keep the hay until spring, feeding his cattle a straw and molasses blend as long as possible this winter.
He’s already culled more than a third of his bred cows from his 80-head herd and expects to sell more at auction, depending on this winter’s weather.
Chris Freure from Wellandport in Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula has two loads of hay of about 100 bales, that he plans to donate after he harvests his soybeans.
Freure left the dairy industry six years ago, but he knows the difficulties of procuring forage and silage.
“We understand the challenges when you have livestock and it’s a struggle to find good quality feed,” he said.
“We have some excess hay that we’re happy to donate and help the farmers out to keep livestock running. If it means a family farm stays viable, that’s huge.”
He’s not a member of MDS, but sees helping western farmers as deeper than an agricultural issue.
“I think it’s more widespread than that. We help each other in the community and help each other across Canada wherever possible,” he said.
Organizers said the biggest hurdle of the program has been covering the cost of transportation.
Beef producers pay seven cents a pound for donated hay but this doesn’t offset all transport costs.
“We’ve been quietly hoping that some level of government would come up with some assistance for freight, but that has not been happening to my knowledge,” said Epp.
Farmers in Ontario wanting to donate hay can call Lester Weber at 519-584-4171 or Delmer Erb at 519-897-4330.
Farmers in Saskatchewan who need hay should contact Daryl Bueckert at 306-717-3987 or Ike Epp at 306-342-7921.
An application form for hay is at mds.mennonite.net/mds-canada-launches-hay-west-to-deliver-hay/ .
People wishing to donate to help with the cost of transportation can do so at www.mds.org.