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For Cornelius Beveridge, a cattle producer in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, hay provided by the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada Hay West project arrived at just the right time.

“It got us through the cold spell around Christmas,” he said of a two-week period when temperatures hovered around -30C/-22F.

“The cows were happy to have food to stay warm,” he said, adding “without that hay we would have had to sell some of our cattle.”

Beveridge, who farms with his wife, Heidi, was one of 56 producers in that province to receive hay from the MDS Hay West project.

Through the project, farmers in Ontario—where crops last year were good—donated excess hay to farmers dealing with drought in Saskatchewan.

“It was quite generous of them to help us,” said Beveridge, who had about 200 cattle over the winter. “Every bale of hay I received was priceless. I am grateful they remembered us.”

Ike Epp of the MDS Saskatchewan Unit echoes that sentiment.

“It’s great that farmers in Ontario were willing to help us out west,” he said, recalling the hay went the other direction in 2012 when farmers in Saskatchewan sent hay east to farmers in Ontario experiencing drought.

Epp was also gratified to be able to help so many farmers this year, even if he wished they could have helped more.

“Like with any disaster, the problem was bigger than we could address,” he said. But those who received hay “appreciated our efforts.”

“Every bale of hay I received was priceless. I am grateful they remembered us.”

— Cornelius Beveridge, cattle producer in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan

Lester Weber helped organize the project for MDS Ontario.

“We are extremely humbled and grateful for the generosity of all the farmers who donated hay and time to make this project a success,” he said.

“It was important for us to do if we actually believe in Christ’s teaching that we should do to others as we would have them do to us, since they shared with us back in 2012,” he added.

Epp and Weber also acknowledged the support of Hutton Transport, which trucked most of the hay to Saskatchewan from Ontario while charging less than usual rates.

As for Beveridge, he’s casting a hopeful eye to the future.

“Right now we’re OK with the snowfall in April and the amount of rain since then,” he said. “I’m hoping for a better year this year.”

Cost of the project was $345,000 CDN/$268,613 U.S. A total of $86,600 CDN/$67,425 U.S. was donated by MDS supporters, while farmers in Saskatchewan paid a total of $158,300 CDN/$123,250 U.S. toward trucking costs. The remaining $100,100 CDN/$77,940 U.S. is being provided by MDS Canada from its reserves.

John Longhurst, MDS Canada Communications  

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