NORWICH – Herm Sherwood-Sitts is not a farmer, nor is he from Texas, but his heart is fixated on both while the worst drought in the history of the Lone Star State is devastating agriculture there.
His passion? To collect and deliver donations of hay from upstate New York to feed Texas beefers, many of which are either dying from starvation and thirst, or being slaughtered before their prime.
“They’ve lost $5.2 billion in ag down there, cows are dying; being sent to slaughter earlier. If they sell their breeding stock, it will be three to five years before they can recover. But that’s only if they can go back in business,” the Norwich man said.
With a long stretch of triple digit temperatures and only 40 percent of the state’s normal rainfall since January, Texas agriculture officials say producers in the nation's leading cattle state have sent more animals than usual to auction because there's nothing left for them to eat. Pictures viewed on television and the Internet of animals dying in the field have shocked America and beyond.
Sherwood-Sitts plan? To enlist the U.S. Air National Guard to fly loads of hay down in a cargo plane. On Aug. 1, the self-proclaimed ‘dumb ole, unemployed construction worker’ began his project by enlisting support from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Farm Bureaus and agriculture and markets departments in New York and Texas. He also wrote to President Obama and elected representatives in both states – all while soliciting farmers for donations.
He specifically contacted New York State Senator William J. Larkin, Jr. for access to the two, C-17 cargo planes located at Stewart Air National Guard Base. The base, located in the Hudson River Valley, are within Larkin’s jurisdiction.