The Arizona Cattle Growers' Association (ACGA) has set up a fund to raise money for buying hay that can be delivered to cattle ranches scorched by wildfires in the state over the past two months.

ACGA notes that nearly a million acres – much of it grazing land – have been consumed by the fires. More than 90 ranch families in the state have been impacted. "While ranchers were able to save their herds, the eradication of grazing areas places these families in a potentially catastrophic situation," says Patrick Bray, ACGA executive vice president.

Eight loads of hay have already been donated, Bray says. Yet feeding the 7,000 or so head of cattle continues to be a challenge on many of the affected ranches. "Our immediate goal is to get feed to the ranchers as a buffer until we can locate more permanent range for the animals."

It's too early too tell just how much hay will be needed, he says, adding that local hay supplies are already extremely tight. "Production has been good this year in the Phoenix area and in Southern California, but demand has also been very strong. A lot of the hay that's being made is sold before it comes out of the baler. We're looking anywhere and everywhere to line up a supply."

A $15 contribution to the fund – dubbed the Great Arizona Bale-Out Fund – will feed a cow for three days, according to Bray. A donation of $250 would buy a ton of alfalfa hay that would feed approximately 60 cows for a day.

Contributions, which are tax deductible, can be sent to ACGA Arizona Bale-Out Fund, 1401 N. 24th St., Ste. 4, Phoenix, AZ 85008. For more information, go to the Arizona Bale-Out Web site or contact Bray at 602-267-1129 or pbray@arizonabeef.org.