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California Jail Inmates Pitch In To Load Hay

August 6, 1986

Undated (AP) _ Three busloads of California jail inmates pitched in to load hay for Southern livestock, while five Pennsylvania counties were named disaster areas and federal help was sought for 22 Tennessee counties as drought’s toll widens.

A 94-car train carrying 72,000 bales of hay from Wisconsin and Minnesota arrived Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala., and a 71-car train with 1,440 tons of hay from Vermont reached Georgia.

The first 10 carloads of Utah hay will be shipped to Delaware, said state marketing director Rod Clifford. ″They called us again today and said they need 10 carloads immediately. Delaware hasn’t gotten the attention the Deep South has, but their situation is bad.″

The shipments are to help feed starving livestock in the Southeast, where drought and heat have dried up pastures and forests, causing nearly $2.5 billion in losses from southern Pennsylvania to Florida. At the same time, a heat wave has killed 117 people from the Southeast and to the central Plains.

In Gilroy, Calif., farmers and volunteers were joined by about 80 jail inmates Tuesday to load 2,500 bales of hay onto a train that will carry the fodder to Alabama. Haylift organizers hope to contribute 10,000 bales by week’s end.

″It’s OK, but I’ve had nicer jobs before,″ said Rene Renaud, one of the Elmwood Jail inmates.

Without their assistance, said organizer Kip Brundage, ″we’d have had a whole lot of tired-out farmers and volunteers.″

In Tennessee, Gov. Lamar Alexander on Tuesday requested federal assistance for 22 counties in the eastern part of the state to enable farmers to receive low-interest loans. In his letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Richard Lyng, Alexander also sought feed assistance for 30 counties.

The request came as the Tennessee Agricultural Statistics Service rated 86 percent of the state’s pastures as in poor to very poor condition. Most summer crops were listed in fair to poor condition.

Also Tuesday, Lyng declared five counties in south-central Pennsylvania a federal disaster area, clearing the way for low-interest loans.

Last week, the Reagan administration announced special loan programs and other federal aid for farmers in Alabama, Delaware, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Virginia.

Lyng, however, has not made any such declaration for Georgia, where officials estimate the drought damage at more than $500 million.

″I’m very disappointed in him, and that’s not a political stand,″ Rep. Lindsay Thomas, D-Ga., told a civic club in Savannah. ″We have been talking with him and working with him continually, and he’s been very unwilling to consider the kinds of action that are desperately needed.″

Estimates of damage to agriculture and forestry include $533.6 million in Georgia, $750 million in Alabama, $400 million in North Carolina, $360 million in South Carolina, $118 million in Maryland, $61.5 million in Virginia, $58 million in southern Pennsylvania, $40 million in Delaware, and $15 million in West Virginia. A recent heat wave in Arkansas could cost farmers $135 million to $200 million, state agronomist Woody Miley said Monday.

Since July 1, the heat has been blamed for 29 deaths in Georgia; 21 in Arkansas; an estimated 15 in Mississippi; seven in Tennessee; six in Texas; five each in South Carolina and Oklahoma; four each in Alabama, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina; three in Louisiana; two each in Kentucky and Florida; and one each in Virginia and Michigan.

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