DURAND, MI -- A relief convoy laden with goodwill departed Michigan in the early morning hours of March 17, beginning a 1,200-mile trek to farmlands on the High Plains recently ravaged by wildfires. Loaded with 300 round bales of hay, several pallets of milk-replacer calf feed, barbed wire fencing and care packages for affected farm families, half a dozen semis left Harvest Mills in Durand as the sun rose on St. Patrick’s Day.
Early-March wildfires laid waste to more than a million acres of grazing land in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, destroying livestock feed, cattle, farmsteads and human lives.
Assistance has been pouring in from across the country.
Michigan’s relief effort was led by Matt Schaller, a truck driver for Hunt Farms in eastern Genesee County, near Richfield. When Schaller learned farmers on the High Plains were in desperate need, he started making calls to his contacts in and around the southern Thumb.
Christy and Rodney Gordon pitched in with a load of hay and their own trucks; they work 1,200 acres near Croswell alongside Rodney’s dad. Companies with close ties to the region’s farm community—including Helena Chemical in Imlay City and Brighton-based Corrigan Oil—also joined in, contributing their own trucks and drivers to the campaign.
Proud of its close ties with the state’s farmers through the Michigan Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau Insurance also donated time and resources to assist farm families in need across the fire-ravaged plains. Applauding the efforts of the generous Michigan farmers extending their support out west, Farm Bureau Insurance pledged to pick up the fuel tab for their return trip.
Anyone interested in helping underwrite the effort is encouraged to contribute at the gofundme site set up to help support the endeavor.