The drought hit western North Dakota hard this summer, with feed shortages floating to the top among issues facing ranchers.

North Dakota Farmers Union went to its county organizations to find out who needed help, and Mercer and McIntosh counties said they were facing shortages.

With its new semi-tractor, purchased to haul food to its restaurants on the East Coast, NDFU Transportation Coordinator Kevin Widmer hauled four loads of hay out west from outside of Duluth, Minn., in October. The hay was donated by John Shipley.

“We had a number of ranchers talk to us about the potential shortage of hay,” NDFU President Mark Watne said. “Due to the fact that we just bought a truck, we made an effort after a phone call from a guy in Duluth to bring some hay to a couple counties that requested some help. We’re glad we could help a few farmers and ranchers with that issue.”

Watne said NDFU ran into a few unforeseen snags with interstate regulations.

“Even though a lot of effort was made to make it simpler to bring hay to North Dakota for the drought, we had to go through the process of getting our truck licensed to haul, and we had to have the right equipment and had to lease and rent that equipment to bring those loads in.”

The hay was distributed via a lottery system established by the county officers. Watne said NDFU felt it was necessary to do something before winter set in.

“The hardest thing for ranchers is their ability to feed cows throughout the winter,” he said. “I felt if we could be part of the many groups that were doing this, we wanted to help as much as we could.”

NDFU received help from the E.W. Wylie Corporation, a trucking company out of West Fargo that donated all of the straps.

– Chris Aarhus, NDFU