Minnesota hay is moving west and south to help ranchers in four states scorched by wildfires earlier this month.
Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order Friday to ease vehicle restrictions to help speed up emergency shipments over the next two weeks.
Wildfires across Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas consumed nearly 2 million acres by preliminary estimates, much of it grazing pastures for cattle and horses. Farmers lost thousands of animals that could not escape fires driven by high winds, and livestock that survived have no grass or hay to feed on in many areas.
State officials said that Minnesota farmers are eager to donate hay to ranchers in the four states to prevent additional livestock losses.
The executive order, in effect through April 8, lifts size and weight restrictions for Minnesota drivers of motor vehicles providing direct emergency relief.
It also suspends the need for permits normally required to transport oversized and overweight loads of hay and other forage.
The measure allows drivers transporting hay from other states to easily pass through Minnesota to reach states affected by the wildfires.
Farmers interested in donating hay or money to help affected farmers and ranchers can receive more information by contacting the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association or by going to mnsca.org/resources.