Alabama agriculture officials, cattlemen and truckers have joined to “bale out” Texas cattlemen after wildfires destroyed their grazing grounds.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries is coordinating a plan to truck hay to Texas cattlemen who lost their grazing grounds in wildfires in the Texas Panhandle.  It is collaborating with the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association (ACA) and the Alabama Trucking Association (ATA) to prevent starvation of Texas cattle that survived the wildfires.

The fires were a one-two punch to the Texas cattle industry. They lost over 7,000 head of cattle, and the number is rising.  For those surviving cattle, they have lost their main source of feed. Over 1.5 million acres of land were burned, destroying most of the grazing lands.

Alabama to the rescue.

The hay project is an unusual combined effort of another state’s agriculture department with two private state associations, one representing Alabama cattle producers and one representing Alabama truckers.  

The hay project may give new meaning to “public/private partnerships.”  The hay is being donated by Alabama farmers, and the use of the trucks is donated by Alabama truckers.  These are voluntary donations from private Alabama citizens.

Texas has always been known for going it alone. Even in their wars to secede from Mexico, Texas became the Lone Star Republic. They are still known as the Lone Star State. In this time of serious need, Texas did not ask for help from Alabama. It was the other way around.

Rick Pate, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, explained, "I reached out to my counterpart, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, to express my sympathy for their loss of thousands of cattle and millions of acres of pastureland and offer Alabama’s assistance during this disaster. We have committed our resources to help provide Texas farmers with hay for their cattle during this devasting time along with our partners at ACA and ATA. When I reached out to the associations, they did not hesitate to offer their services.”

Pate’s counterpart, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, stated, "I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Alabama Commissioner Rick Pate and the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries for their generous donation of hay in the wake of the Texas Panhandle wildfires. This act of solidarity underscores the strength of our agricultural community and the importance of standing together in times of need. We have received unwavering support from our fellow state departments of agriculture and their assistance has been instrumental in navigating the road to recovery during this challenging time."

And a challenging time it is.  The Texas Panhandle wildfires dwarfed the past years’ wildfires in California. Just one of the fires, the Smokehouse Creek Wildfire, is the largest fire recorded in Texas, the second largest fire in U.S. history and is larger than the top 20 largest wildfires in California over the past century. This fire alone burned over a million acres.

Eighty-five percent of the cattle in Texas are located in its northerly Panhandle where the wildfires burned cattle and pastureland.

And the effects of Texas cattle and pastureland losses extend beyond the Texas state line. Texas is the largest producer of beef for American consumers. National beef shortages and price increases could result from the fire losses. The Alabama hay project will be just one of a number of mitigating efforts against beefed-up beef prices and shortages.

The Alabama Cattlemen’s Association (ACA) has set up a website for farmers who will donate hay here.  Anyone wanting to help the cattle farmers in Texas can make a tax-deductible donation on the site.

“Cattlemen helping cattlemen is something we know all too well in Alabama. The Alabama Cattlemen's Association is proud to come alongside Commissioners Pate and Miller and the Alabama Trucking Association to assist our cattlemen friends in Texas as they recover from this historical natural disaster,” said Erin Beasley, head of the ACA.

Drop point locations for donated hay as follows:

Alabama Livestock Auction (800 US Hwy 80 E, Uniontown, AL 36786)

Baldwin County Coliseum and Fairgrounds (19477 Fairground Rd., Robertsdale, AL 36567)

Cullman Agricultural Center (17645 US Highway 31, Cullman, AL 35058)

Frisco City Stockyard (20 Houston St., Frisco City, AL 36445)

Northwest Alabama Livestock on March 29 & 30 (14330 AL-243, Russellville, AL 35654)

A vital part of this relief effort is transportation of the donated hay to Texas. ATA and its Alabama truckers have stepped up to meet that need.

“During any crisis, truckers answer the call. When we reached out to Alabama truckers to solicit their help to deliver much needed hay to Texas, the response was immediate: ‘just tell us when and where,’” said Mark Colson, president and CEO of the Alabama Trucking Association.  “We stand in solidarity with Commissioner Pate, Commissioner Miller, the Alabama and Texas Cattlemen and all of those who have been impacted by this natural disaster. The trucking industry in Texas, led by my friend John Esparza, has been on the front lines helping those in need, and we are proud to play a small role to help bring relief to our friends there.”

For questions related to hay donations please contact Reid McGuire at the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association.  334-265-1867 or

Truckers that would like to assist in this effort contact Susan Seymour with the Alabama Trucking Association at

“I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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