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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A care package for ranchers

Wisconsin Lutherans send hay to drought-stricken Texas

The county as a whole is in a world of hurt, " said Anthony Netardus, a DeWitt County, Texas, agricultural extension agent. That summed up the effects of the state's second-worst drought of the century on the south Texas county.

Both DeWitt and adjoining Lavaca County are among Texas' top cattle-producing counties. Both were severely hurt by a yearlong lack of rain. The drought's fallout affected not only cattle producers but also most other people and businesses in the area.

The drought prompted Al Hoerig, pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church, Cuero, Texas, to appeal for aid on the LutherLink computer network. His original goal was to link hay producers with needy south Texas ranchers, then let them negotiate prices and shipping.

But Tom Marks, pastor of Perry Lu theran Church, Mount Horeb, Wis., had a different idea when he read the computer posting. He asked the members of Perry if they would donate hay.

Farmers from Perry were experiencing problems too. The area had a "horrible spring," Marks said, with cold, wet weather setting back both the corn crop and hay production. Although many of his parishioners already were facing financial hardships, that didn't stop them from helping.

Farmers in Wisconsin's Dane, Green, Iowa and Lafayett e counties sent several semitrailer trucks of hay to Texas.

Most of that hay, Marks said, came from "people who know what it's like to struggle," so they understood the difficulties the ranchers were facing.

The hay, which bega n arriving in mid-August, was distributed to ranchers based solely on financial need, Hoerig said. Perry's social ministry committee initiated local fund-raising to pay the baling and shipping costs.

Aid Association for Lutherans, civic groups and other churches in the two-county area signed on to help. Contributions may be sent to: DeWitt/Lavaca Hay Relief Fund, c/o St. Mark Lutheran Church, PO Box 248, Cuero, TX 77954-0248.


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