Hoosier farmers helping farmers in need


FRANKLIN, Ind. (WTHR) - A devastating wildfire decimated parts of four states earlier this month, scorching more than a million acres.

It is the worst wildfire ever for the state of Kansas. Now, people here in Indiana are reaching out to help.

Farmers in Johnson and Shelby counties heard about the need on social media. They quickly loaded up trailers with supplies and headed out west.

The Canarys have been farming in Franklin for six generations, feeding families and supporting fellow farmers.

"We're all in this together. If one aspect of agriculture fails, we all fail," John Canary said.

So when they heard about this major disaster to our west, more than a million acres scorched by a wildfire, they decided to take Hoosier hospitality on the road.

"Monday I was like we're doing this. Tuesday I was like, 'I don't know...yeah, I gotta do it.' Wednesday, we're loading hay," Canary said.

They put their lives on hold in Indiana and put out a call on social media for other farmers' help.

Cindy Ramsey, who farms with her husband in Shelby County and works with The Indiana Farm Bureau, said it was an easy ask.

"When they started putting out that they wanted to take hay, I looked at my husband and said, 'don't we have some hay we need to get rid of?' And he said 'sure do'," Ramsey said. "This totally came about because a group of people know they need to help and the farming community is a faith based community in most areas."

They rolled out four trucks over 15 hours to Clark County, Kansas, with donated fencing, 25 tons of the Ramseys' hay and cattle supplements.

Here's why.

This fire wiped people and property out. There's no more grass for cattle. Thousands of cows were killed. That's not only devastating for the farmers, but also could endanger our food supply and the price we pay for food all across the country.

"This was total devastation. Total burnt. Houses, fences, power poles. If it was in the path of the fire, it was gone," Canary explained.

"Just one ranch of 30,000 acres, they've lost all their grassland. They've lost over a thousand cows and they've lost three of their homes," Ramsey added. "It's a major loss."

But thanks to the generosity of Hoosiers, recovery has a good start. And Canary says it was gratifying to see farmers' relief firsthand.

"The guy met me and he got out of his truck and I said 'How you doing?' He said 'Where are you from?' I said, 'We're from Indiana.' And you can just imagine this old weathered rancher, sunburnt face and you could see the tears in his eyes and he was just blown away that we came from Indiana," Canary said. "It's as simple as people need help and that's what we're called to do as Christians and we're gonna go help."

"That's what farmers do. We take care of our own," Ramsey said.

The Hoosier farmers paid for everything themselves - the supplies, the travel, the hotels. They did get some monetary donations to help, including a few from people right along the highway as they drove west.

If you'd like to help, you can contact the Indiana Farm Bureau and ask for Cindy Ramsey.

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