Montana farmer lends a helping hand to fire and drought relief - KXLF.com | Continuous News | Butte, Montana

Montana farmer lends a helping hand to fire and drought relief

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The agricultural community is banding together to help those affected by the fires and the drought in Montana.

Jess Bandel, a dry-land farmer, says after the USDA Farm Service Agency's disaster designation (in June) allowing haying and grazing of CRP land, he realized he could help by baling his CRP grass and sending it to eastern Montana to offer relief for some farmers and ranchers.

He says he didn't have the equipment to bale the grass, so he called his Torgerson's rep and they were happy to provide the balers. New Holland happened to have representatives in town testing new equipment, so they provided the baler.

Bob Boatman, Torgerson's vice president and general manager for the Great Falls, Lewistown, Denton, and Kalispell operations, says 250 of their employees statewide are engaged in the efforts to help. 

That includes hauling hay and donating fencing supplies.

Bandel says he's received a lot of help from the community. His FSA agent worked on a Sunday to process the paperwork so Bandel could donate the grass legally.

Bandel, who is president of the Chouteau County Farm Bureau, says their motto is "care for the country." He hopes to do just that, and that his efforts can help save somebody's ranch from being lost.

"It breaks your heart," he said. "There's ranchers over there that are going to be affected for a generation or more trying to recover from this. So it kind of got to the point of what can we do and I think that's the really cool thing about the agriculture community is that we're people helping people."

On Tuesday afternoon, Bandel said that they have received 56 bales; he is working on ways to get it to Eastern Montana. He's looking for help from truckers, and says the Farm Bureau would donate gas money.

If you know of someone who can help, you can call him at 406-727-9994.

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