Farmers face hay shortage : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday, December 27, Farmers face hay shortage


Winter’s provided plenty of snow and subzero temperatures for Northwest Missouri’s farmers to contend with.

Farmers are hunkering down to face a long winter with depleted hay supplies.

Following a dry, hot summer, recent snows and cold weather could strain the region’s reserves of livestock feed.

St. Joseph farmer Bob Carter raises and markets hay but has already sold out. Farmers who didn’t bale their own hay this year could have trouble finding it, he said.

“There’s hay out there, but it’s not very good quality,” Mr. Carter said.

Problems started this summer when drought conditions cut back yields in hay fields. With pastures in poor condition, many farmers started feeding hay to cattle, sheep and horses earlier than usual. Cold weather the last two weeks has further increased demand. The energy needs for cattle can go up 20 percent to 50 percent when temperatures dip below zero, according to the University of Missouri Extension program.

Mr. Carter often sells hay to dairy farmers around Springfield, Mo. That region has been especially hard hit by winter storms.

“It looks like there’s going to be a shortage of hay all over,” Mr. Carter said.

Missouri’s hay situation is part of the reason Gov. Roger Wilson has asked for the entire state to be declared an agricultural disaster. Mr. Wilson cited adverse weather conditions in his request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The ill effects of the hot, dry summer have become even more apparent now that the harvest is complete and winter is upon us,” Mr. Wilson said.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture estimates that overall, farmers in many parts of the state lost about one-third of their crops due to weather.

If granted, the disaster declaration would allow farmers to apply for low-interest loans that could be used to restore or replace property, pay for farming costs and family living expenses, and reorganize farming operations.

The state has previously asked for disaster declarations in 45 counties in southern and west central Missouri. Those requests are still pending at the federal level.

-- Martin Thompson (, December 27, 2000

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