Ohio farmers gathering donations for rancher relief following wildfires

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Just like a wildfire, a relief effort is spreading in Ohio to help ranchers who have been devastated by fire in Kansas, Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma.

Damages are still being calculated but officials said the Kansas wildfires are the worst the state has ever reported. Thousands of cattle have been killed and millions of dollars in damages are expected.

The US Department of Agriculture is expected to make disaster relief assistance available. But farmers in the Buckeye State said the ranchers need immediate help so they are stepping up.

Rose Hartschuh of Bucyrus is spear-heading a drive to gather hay, feed, fencing, supplies, and donations of gift cards to the Kansas ranchers.

"Most of the cows they are running in Kansas are on range land and the wild fires have pretty much burned up any source of feed they have," said Hartschuh.

"From Ohio we have a great supply of hay that we could take out to them and really help them get back on their feet and have something to feed their animals for the next several months while the grass starts to re-generate.

Thousands of cattle have died in this. A lot of momma cows, there are a lot of orphaned calves out their people are taking them to their farms and feeding helping get them going also," said Hartschuh.

At ASE Feed and Supply, Stacy Carl said that even though it is a busy time of year for Ohio farmers, they want to help. "Agriculture as an industry isn't easy one as it is when things going well, so when there is a crisis you know, I think we can all relate to how hard it is," said Carl. "Agriculture I like because it is a close-knit community regardless if you are in Ohio or Kansas. You really tend to relate to that small town, rural America type thing."

Hartschuh said there is a growing interest on social media about the donations for the ranchers. In addition to at least 30 trucks of hay from Ohioans, the farmers want to collect cash and gift cards for the struggling Kansas ranchers.

A truck convoy of about 50 is expected to leave the Dayton area on Friday morning to take the collections to Kansas. Hartschuh said many of those heading west will stay for several days to help the ranchers with chores and rebuilding.

"We know that if there were a disaster in Ohio people from all over the country would be reaching out to us," said Hartschuh.

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