Minnesotans are donating hay to help Kansas farmers recover from wildfires

"You help out in a disaster. That's just what you do," said a southern Minnesota farmer after delivering donated hay.

Minnesota farmers have been stepping up this week to help their peers in Kansas recover from what is looking like an agricultural disaster.

Grassfires that burned across Kansas this month turned into the biggest wildfire on record in the state, the Weather Channel says. More than 1,000 square miles are now charred. Much of that land had been used for grazing livestock.

Big stretches of land in Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado was also scorched, but Kansas seems to have been hit the hardest.

According to a Kansas paper called the Rural Messenger, the latest estimate is that farmers and ranchers in the state lost 700,000 acres of land and anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 head of cattle.

Minnesotans helping

Dean Karau, who farms near St. James, Minnesota, was among those motivated to help this week.

Karau explained to the Mankato Free Press that he goes down to Kansas every summer for seasonal work harvesting wheat, so he knows the region.

Karau arrived in south-central Kansas on Thursday after driving 700 miles in a truck loaded with hay bales he and a couple farmer friends donated.

He told the Free Press the devastation in the area is unbelievable, but added: “You help out in a disaster. That's just what you do. And hopefully if we need help here someday, they'll come to help us.”

Some Minnesota farmers remember that they've already been helped during a time of need.

In Benton County, just east of St. Cloud, farmer Murry Moulzolf told FOX 9 donations from others helped the area get through the drought that ravaged Minnesota in 1988. “People brought hay to Foley and we got hay for our cattle back in 1988. Now, we are doing it back now in 2017,” he said.

Karau told the Free Press his truckload of hay went to a farmer who was able to save his 500 head of cattle from the flames, but lost all of his grazing land and stored hay bales.

FOX says a drive by the Minnesota State Cattleman's Association to collect donations of hay and cash raised $6,000 in a couple of days.

More information about how to help farmers in all four of the states hit by fires is available here.

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