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Low Hay Stocks Send Hay Prices Up
June 18, 2013

Last year’s drought has taken a toll on hay availability. Hay production fell substantially in 2012 due to weather conditions and more acres being devoted to corn, placing added pressure on already low hay inventories.

As a result, hay stored on U.S. farms on May 1, 2013, totaled 14.2 million tons, down 34 percent from a year ago. This was the lowest level on record for May 1.

Wisconsin hay stocks were down 410,000 tons, a 56 percent reduction from last year. Of the top 15 hay-growing states, only South Dakota saw a larger percentage drop (65 percent).

To make matters worse, a cold, wet spring has delayed the availability of pasture, forcing farmers to rely on dry hay as a feed source longer than usual and further depleting hay stocks.

Last winter’s weather also resulted in alfalfa winterkill. In Wisconsin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service reported that alfalfa winterkill was 19 percent severe, 23 percent moderate and 24 percent light as of May 20.

This shortfall has caused hay prices to climb substantially. For example, the USDA’s Agricultural Prices report shows that alfalfa prices in Wisconsin are $255 per ton this year. That is up from $135 per ton in 2012.

Source: Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and Hoard’s Diaryman


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