South Carolina Farmers Receive 1800 Tons Of Indiana Hay With AM-Drought Bjt
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ About 300 farmers, children and bystanders cheered and waved U.S. flags Tuesday as a train carrying hundreds of tons of Indiana hay rolled into town.
The train, dubbed the ″Hoosier Hay Express″ when it left Indiana with 1,800 tons of hay, was the biggest single gift so far in a nationwide drought relief effort for the Southeast, where farmers are running out of feed.
As a gesture of thanks to the Indiana farmers and volunteers who worked for three days to send the trainload of hay, Gov. Dick Riley proclaimed Tuesday ″Hoosier Day,″ in South Carolina.
″I want to say for all of the people of South Carolina, God bless the good folks of Indiana who have made this hay train a reality, and God bless this country and its generous, caring people,″ Riley said.
″It means everything. It’s a blessing to us,″ said farmer Edward Wilson, 65, of Blythewood, adding that he hoped South Carolina farmers could someday repay the Indiana farmers.
″This cutting I should’ve gotten 800 to 900 bales cut, but I only got 65 bales,″ Wilson said of his hay crop. He said he normally feeds his 60 cattle about 1,500 bales of hay a year.
The 77-boxcar, mile-long train, which left Indianapolis on Sunday, dropped off 35 cars at three other South Carolina cities before arriving here for a formal welcoming ceremony. One car was sidetracked with mechanical problems.
″South Carolina might be out of hay, but one thing it’s not out of - that is good friends,″ said state Agriculture Commissioner Les Tindal.
The 1,800 tons of Indiana hay from 250 farms represented a contribution of more than $300,000, including the cost of the hay, $50,000 from Indiana truckers who transported it, $80,000 from the CSX Corp., which donated the train, and the time volunteered by the railroad engineers, brakemen and other workers.
Indiana Lt. Gov. John Mutz said 2,500 volunteers cut the hay and loaded it onto the trucks and train.
South Carolina prison inmates volunteered to unload hay from delivery trucks and the train and load it onto farmers’ trucks.
A line of trucks waited along the tracks to receive the hay. One was set up as a makeshift podium and carried a banner that said ″Thanks Hoosiers - South Carolina Farmers Say ‘Hay Thanks’ to the People of Indiana and CSX Transportation.″
″Twenty years from now, when the drought of 1986 is a harsh but distant memory, what we will remember is not the absence of rainfall, but the flood of human kindness,″ said Lt. Gov. Mike Daniel. ″What we will remember is that simple act of kindness from one farmer to another - a helping hand, stretched across this country to a neighbor in need.″