Across the southern plains, relief comes in many forms – a heavy rainfall, a steady wind or, more recently, a neighbor’s helping hand.

For the families who farm in rural Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, relief from the past month’s wildfires continues to arrive in the form of hay and feed for livestock; food, water and clothing to aid those caring for wounded animals, land and people; and fencing materials and construction supplies for rebuilding efforts.

According to the Kansas Farm Bureau, more than 650,000 acres have burned in the state, leaving behind charred homes, barns, land, livestock and equipment, but not the rural spirit that binds these communities together.

“That same spirit that defines a farmer or rancher’s commitment to the land and livestock they work defines their commitment to each other, in times of great celebration and in times of sorrow,” says Neil Caskey, executive vice president at Osborn Barr, an agriculture and rural marketing agency with offices in Missouri, Kansas and Tennessee.

Strangers from hundreds of miles away are offering what they can share to the effort. Rep. Tom Hurst, R-Meta, recently led a convoy of mid-Missouri farmers on a 1,200-mile, round-trip trek to deliver resources to communities in their neighboring state. Tough rivals are willing to set aside the past in the name of their families’ futures.

“Neighbors are doing what they can, and we’re going to do what we can,” says Rhonda Ries, president of Osborn Barr. “We’re pledging $10,000 to the relief efforts and will coordinate through Kansas Farm Bureau, which is working with others, such as the Kansas Livestock Association, to provide support as they recover and rebuild. Beyond that, we will match our employee donations made to KFB as well. We’re committed to helping facilitate additional efforts among the agriculture community and those in our home states to help mend fences.”

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that more than $6 million would be made available to farmers and ranchers affected by the wildfires. Funds will be used to assist with recovery, such as restoring grazing land, rebuilding fencing and protecting damaged watersheds.

“This is a devastating time,” Caskey adds. “But we have a sense of hope about the future for these families. When hard times fall on rural communities, they rebuild – physical structures like barns and homes will come down when they’re tested with flames, but the emotional ties of community are never stronger than when they are refined by fire.”

Officials announced on March 10 that fires in Kansas are under control, and while helping hands are not in short supply, more are needed. State and local organizations that support farmers and ranchers are providing fire relief resources. To learn more and donate, go to

Source: Osborn Bar press release