Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation’s Hay Clearinghouse is a grassroots disaster relief effort. Louisiana farmers donate hay to help feed cattle and horses owned by other local farmers who have been affected by a natural disaster. But as with everything, there is a backstory.
The Story of the Hay Clearinghouse
The Hay Clearinghouse story begins with this basic fact: Louisiana is very familiar with natural disaster. Mention flooding in conjunction with Louisiana, and of course, the first thing that comes to most minds is Hurricane Katrina. But unfortunately, Louisiana experiences some degree of flooding every year.
In the past 16 years, Louisiana has been struck by six hurricanes, and according to a Nola.com story, in early 2017, 85 percent of Louisiana’s population was in some stage of disaster recovery. And, as anyone in the agriculture industry knows, farming is highly dependent on weather. With farming comes big risks, and in Louisiana—where we have floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes—the weather risks are bigger than in many places.
The Spring Flooding of 2016
In March 2016, prolonged rainfall caused catastrophic flooding in northern Louisiana. Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, the Amite and Comite Rivers reached record highs, rainfall exceeded 20 inches in multiple parishes, and 13 deaths were attributed to the waters. National news deemed the floods the worst natural disaster since 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.
Here’s another basic fact: an average cow consumes about 27 lbs. of hay each day. This means, even for a farmer with a small herd, the amount of hay necessary to keep cows healthy adds up fast. With the spring flooding of 2016, the hay bales that farmers depend on to feed their livestock were ruined. Fields were too flooded for grazing.
Farmers were desperately searching for hay, and Louisiana Farm Bureau wanted to help. So, they created the Hay Clearinghouse to connect farmers in need of hay with farmers in unaffected parts of the state, who had hay to donate. Farmers answered the call and pitched in generously.
The Summer Flooding of 2016
A few months later, in the summer of 2016, south Louisiana experienced extensive flooding. This time, north and central Louisiana farmers already knew to come to Louisiana Farm Bureau with hay donations for south Louisiana’s farmers. Some commercial hay growers donated as well, and trailer owners donated time and trucks to get the hay where it needed to go.
Activating the Clearinghouse in 2017
In September of 2017, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Louisiana experienced flooding again, and just as in the previous year, farmers with plenty came through, to help keep the livestock of their fellow farmers from going hungry. Because 2017 was such a wet year, hay supplies were generally low, statewide. One Cameron Parish cattleman who received hay from the clearinghouse told Louisiana Farm Bureau that on a normal year, he’d have 700-800 bales in his barn by September. In September of 2017, he only had 57 bales.
Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Hay Clearinghouse will become activated each time there is a disaster in the state that threatens farmers’ feed supplies.
Make a Hay Donation or Request a Hay Donation
When the Hay Clearinghouse is activated, farmers who need hay or have hay to donate can sign up here. This a grassroots effort, organized by Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, but it’s fueled by farmers. Louisiana’s farmers and ag workers are a resilient and charitable group, and we are proud to protect their interests.
Cattlemen and hay producers can contact the hay clearinghouse by contacting the Clearinghouse Coordinator, Carey Martin, at (318) 471-2114.
Make Sure to Insure Your Farm
While the Hay Clearinghouse is a great resource to take advantage of, you should also contact a local Louisiana Farm Bureau insurance agent to make sure that your farm equipment and property are properly covered. Protect your investment today.