Bridgestone Firestone hauling hay to help farmers

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After a drought caused farmers in Warren County, Tenn., to lose two-thirds of this year’s hay production, the agricultural community faced two options: pay double for hay from elsewhere because of the added freight costs, or sell their cattle.

Project Hayride provided a third option. Through the program, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire trucks returning from neighboring states are bringing hay to local farmers, with BFNT absorbing the freight cost. By the end of January, Bridgestone Firestone and its partners will provide Warren County farmers with 1.5 million pounds of needed hay at about the same price they would have paid without the drought.

Seeing the farmers’ need, Bridgestone Firestone offered its complex system of trucks, trailers and drivers to bring hay back from Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky, and to cover the freight costs that are burdensome to the farmers. With that offer of help, the Warren Farmers Co-op, UT Agriculture Extension Office, Warren County Economic Development Board, Warren County Cattlemen’s Association and Warren County Executive joined the effort.

Together with Bridgestone Firestone, the team found out-of-state hay suppliers, negotiated prices, checked routes to ensure the trucks could reach the farms, and helped 55 farmers sign up for the program.