March 29, 2006 | By: Laura Skillman

When Jerry Dunville attended a Fellowship of Christian Farmers International worship service at the National Farm Machinery Show there was a video on farmers helping farmers in hurricane ravaged areas. It left him with the desire to do something similar.

That desire led to a phone call to Vicki Shadrick, Webster County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Then that call led to nearly 2,700 bushels of western Kentucky corn going to help livestock farmers in Louisiana.

“Originally, they were asking for hay and still are,” Shadrick said. “We started making phone calls to see what we could do, and we said hay may be difficult but we felt we could do corn a whole lot easier.”

Shadrick turned to several farmers in the community who had trucks and might be willing to donate their time to haul corn to Louisiana. The initial thought was to send one truckload, but that quickly blossomed into three truckloads, with more than enough grain to fill them and enough monetary contributions to pay for the drivers’ overnight accommodations, meals and diesel fuel.

Danny Liggett contributed his trailer and drove a truck donated by Webster County resident Tim Smith that already had the proper license and permit. Liggett’s wife Mandy went along for company.

“Word of mouth was getting us all the grain we needed,” he said. “From one neighbor to another neighbor, and then he’d tell two more and they’d tell four more and the next thing we knew they were calling us.”

The Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association ended up picking up their hotel bills and taking them to dinner, said Steve Carver, another of the Webster County farmers who volunteered himself and his truck for the cause.

Shadrick did much of the legwork helping ensure the truck owners had the proper permits to haul the corn from Kentucky to Louisiana. She also made contact with the Fellowship of Christian Farmers representative in Kentucky, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association, and her agricultural Extension colleagues in the Louisiana parishes where the grain was headed.

The grain was taken to Quality Feeds, a feed mill in Folsom, La., where it was ground and put into 50-pound bags for distribution to livestock producers. The distribution was handled by the cattlemen’s association in conjunction with parish agricultural agents so that it would go to the neediest producers, said Bo Boles, the third truck donor and driver. The mill was about 50 miles north of New Orleans.

Because the area is not a big grain producer, the mill could only hold two trucks at a time so Liggett went a day ahead of the others, on March 13. The mill manager stayed late to grind and bag that load so they’d be ready for the other two loads the next day. The trucks had to be parked several miles away from their hotel so the local sheriff’s department provided transport for the farmers.

Dunville, Liggett, Boles and Carver said they took the time to help their southern neighbors because their misfortune ended up being a blessing for farmers here.

“Without that hurricane weather coming up into our area we would have had a devastating year,” Boles said. “The end of June, first of July it was hot and we were starting to get dry, and then the hurricane rains came and it made an excellent corn crop. So I kind of felt obligated to do this.”

Most of the 14 farmers who donated grain felt the same way, he said.

Scott Sellers, who works for Dunville and went along with the group to help drive or do whatever else was needed, said he was not surprised by the community’s outpouring of offers to help.

“It’s a pretty good community when it comes to things like that,” he said.

The farmers said they hope that their loads are just the first of many to come from Kentucky and other states. Shadrick said she’s hearing from other farmers who say they would like to donate if another load heads out.

The farmers said they will begin getting busy with their own work soon and won’t be able to make the trip that takes about 10 hours each way. But Shadrick said if they can line up some other means of getting the grain to the areas in need, they may try to send more. They are putting together a load of hay to send, thanks to a trucker who is experienced in hauling hay.

“What we did was just a drop in the bucket of what they need,” Liggett said. “But we hope if we can get the word out, it will result in a snowball effect.”

John Adams, the quick response coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Farmers International and a Kentucky resident, praised the Webster County group.

“Their effort was outstanding, absolutely above and beyond the call of duty,” he said.

Adams noted relief efforts continue for farmers suffering losses and damage due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Anyone wanting to donate money, supplies or feed or who wants to join a work crew helping clear debris or build fences can contact him at (502) 241-4122 or the FCFI office in Lexington, Ill., at (309) 365-8710 or visit their Web site for more details. Shadrick said she’d also be happy to assist people interested in helping their southern neighbors. She can be reached at (270) 639-9011.           


Vicki Shadrick, (270) 639-9011