Boone County farmers organize relief convoy for western wildfires

Boone County farmers organize relief convoy for western wildfires

ASHLAND, Mo. - Semi-trucks filled with hay bales, fencing material and other donations are set to hit the road from mid-Missouri Friday to help farmers affected by the wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

"If you ask a farmer, they're going to lend you a hand no matter what," said Courtney Collins, a cattle farmer from Ashland, who helped organize the relief effort. "You say, 'I need help' and they're at your doorstep ready to go."

Collins said she has received an overwhelming amount of support and donations since she started the relief effort through Facebook on Saturday. 

Jason Mott, the co-chair of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness and Biosciences Committee, presented her with a $2,040 check on Wednesday to help cover fuel costs and other donations to impacted families. He said the monetary donations were collected Tuesday night at the Chamber's annual farmers recognition banquet.

"These people are going to be impacted economically for years to come," Mott said. "What we can do to help them moving forward is just going to be vital to them getting back on their feet and being able to start over again."

Collins said they have nearly 30 semi-trucks filled with supplies. The relief convoy is set to leave Ashland Friday morning to head to Englewood, Kansas. Another set of trucks will leave Saturday for Gate, Oklahoma.

"They're family. I don't know how else to say it," she said. "If it was the other way around and I was over there, they would be busting their butts to help me."

On Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Transportation, at the request of Gov. Eric Greitens and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, waived travel time restrictions for those hauling oversized loads of hay to help with the relief efforts.

Through April 8 permits for oversized loads of hay will be free and drivers will be allowed to travel through the night.

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