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Less Water, More Donated Hay

August 6, 1986

Undated (AP) _ Some communities in the drought-scarred Southeast have tightened the screws on water use, and more donated hay was crammed into boxcars Wednesday to help keep the region’s cattle farmers in business.

In Washington, the House, pressing for more aid to the Southeast’s farmers than the Reagan administration has so far offered, voted 418-0 for a bill to require the Agriculture Department to provide free government grain to areas suffering a critical shortage of livestock feed.

″The additional assistance in our bill clearly cannot solve the entire drought problem. But it can help,″ said Rep. Kika de la Garza, D-Texas, chairman of the Agriculture Committee.

Donations of hay have mounted into the thousands of tons, but officials in the heart of the drought say they may need millions by spring.

The months-old drought, the worst in the Southeast in a century, has caused an estimated $2.3 billion in farm losses from southern Pennsylvania to northern Florida. A concurrent heat wave has killed 117 people from the Southeast to the Plains since July 1.

The government of Villa Rica, Ga., voted to restrict some commercial water uses, extending its previous ban on outside watering to car washes, car lots and service stations.

″We had hoped to avoid hitting anyone in the pocketbook,″ City Manager Robert Barr said. ″But I’m afraid that’s what we’re going to have to do.″

″We hate to take these measures,″ Mayor Ray Barber said Tuesday. ″But if we don’t we might have people out of drinking water.″

Some 100 Georgia cities have imposed water restrictions of various degrees.

At least 47 North Carolina cities, counties and towns have voluntary conservation measures and the state’s latest Drought Advisory Bulletin says water supplies will likely fall more over the next two months.

Officials of Mebane, N.C., adopted water-use restrictions and decided not to sell water to Hillsborough and Orange County. Randleman is building a 2.5- mile water line to Asheboro because the town’s 20-acre reservoir could go dry within 30 days.

However, slight increases in rainfall allowed Carolina Yarn Processors of Tryon, N.C., on Tuesday to recall workers temporarily laid off when dwindling water supplies forced cuts earlier this summer.

A train named ″Haymaker″ rolled through Maine on Wednesday picking up boxcars loaded with donated hay. It was expected to total 57 cars hauling 38,170 bales and 304 huge rolls of hay destined for North Carolina and Delaware.

Scores of volunteers, including Gov. John Evans, bucked bales into boxcars Wednesday at nine sites across southern Idaho. More than 1,400 tons of hay was pledged by ranchers and agribusiness, and Union Pacific Railroad supplied 40 boxcars for free transportation to Atlanta.

Abot 100 tons of hay left Utah Tuesday and officials have commitments for about 750 tons more. ″The response ... is especially appreciated since our Utah farmers are suffering hard economic times themselves, but are still willing to share what they can,″ said Agriculture Commissioner Cap Ferry.

South Carolina farmers have so far received 161,144 bales or 4,832 tons of donated hay, said Tom Lollis of the Clemson Extension Service.

Connecticut has shipped 12,000 bales and 10 more 500-bale loads will go in the next few days, said agriculture official David Schreiber. He said the state’s farmers will have to make up for their donations by buying more hay than normal this fall.

In Massachusetts, a hay train carrying 5,400 bales was set to head south Saturday, and officials with the Heifer Project announced they would start to buy hay for the South at reduced prices because donations are beginning to fall off. The charitable organization usually helps foreign farmers.

Some other hay donation amounts included 100 bales from Rhode Island; 400 tons from Arizona with 300 to 500 tons more committed; an estimated 4,000 tons from Iowa; 150 tons from Pennsylvania with pledges of about 2,200 tons more from 113 farmers; 20,000 to 25,000 bales from Massachusetts; 1,440 tons from Vermont; 72,000 bales sent jointly by Minnesota and Wisconsin; 340 tons from Oregon with an additional 55 tons on the way; 5,000 tons from New York; and 300 tons from Colorado, with 1,500 tons waiting transportation. Other states also have sent huge shipments.

Estimates of damage to agriculture and forestry include $533.6 million in Georgia, $750 million in Alabama, $400 million in North Carolina, $379 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.

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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