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KS Agriculture Agencies Launch Relief Effort For Wildfire-Affected Farms

Kansas Farm Bureau President Rich Felts listens at a meeting Wednesday with Barber County ranchers whose land was damaged by a recent wildfire.

A multi-agency relief effort is underway to help farmers and ranchers in southern Kansas who face losses due to the Anderson Creek Fire.

The Kansas Farm Bureau is working with the Kansas Livestock Association, the Kansas Department of Agriculture and other agencies to get immediate assistance to those who need it after the wildfire destroyed thousands of acres of land around Medicine Lodge in southern Kansas.

John Schlageck with the Farm Bureau says the groups toured the fire-damaged areas in Barber County this week and met with more than two dozen local farmers and ranchers.

"What we’re trying to do is connect those willing to donate supplies and offer labor with the people out there who actually need help," Schlageck says.

Credit Kansas Farm Bureau Facebook
Land in Barber County that was scorched by the recent wildfire.

The wildfire destroyed a significant amount of farm fencing, hay bales and pastures. Schlageck says even with normal precipitation, it’ll take years to get the scorched grass pastures back to full bloom where they could support the number of livestock that normally would use that land.

Schlageck says the hard part is tallying the number of livestock killed.

"There was a lot of loss of little babies out there--little baby calves and newborn calves," he says. "That’s really tough on those guys out there, because they have a lot of genetics and lot of years and time invested in those cattle."

He says the wheat crop on several farms was also damaged because ranchers moved their cattle to those fields to save them from the approaching fire. The Kansas Department of Agriculture says damage to livestock, fencing, water systems and stockpiled hay will be in the millions of dollars.

The wildfire started in northern Oklahoma last week.  High winds spread the flames into Barber and Comanche counties in southern Kansas, burning 574 square miles of sparsely populated land.

The Kansas Farm Bureau has set a up a website to help coordinate fire relief efforts.

The Farm Service Agency will host a public meeting Wednesday, April 6, at 1:00 p.m. at the Barber County Heritage Center in Medicine Lodge for all producers affected by the Anderson Creek Fire. Other USDA agencies and organizations will provide information on support efforts. For more information, visit agriculture.ks.gov.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.