|By DOUG GRAVES
TROTWOOD, Ohio — One year ago Montgomery County farmer Duane Plessinger and other farmers in this part of southwestern Ohio sent 400 tons of hay and shelled corn to farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi. Plessinger personally saw the devastation left by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and wanted to help.
One year later, the effort remains alive.
Last week, Plessinger, 61, and a coordinated network of local farmers were busy again, operating hay balers and hauling truckloads to those ravaged southern states. “The herds down there were about to starve to death,” he said. “They now have a severe drought. Twenty-five miles from the coastline there’s been no rain, and they’ve had less than five inches of rain since October. They don’t need another hurricane, but they do need some steady rain.”
Plessinger keeps in close contact with extension specialists in Vermilion Parish in south-central Louisiana. Plessinger said - of the 40,000 head of cattle in that area - 30,000 were in areas flooded by Rita. Of those, nearly 10,000 were lost to flooding or forced sale. And 80 percent of the fencing in the area was destroyed. More than 30,000 cattle died from this catastrophe.
“The area affected raises rice, sugar cane and cattle,” Plessinger said. “They lost a lot of cattle but most have returned to rebuild.”
Anyone wanting to help in this cause should send a donation to the Montgomery County Cattlemen’s Assoc. account: LMCCA Hay Relief, at Brookville Building & Savings, 510 Arlington Road, Brookville, OH 45309.
Donations are tax deductible. Anyone interested in transporting hay to those states affected should contact Plessinger at 937-229-3710.