Release Rankles Hay Growers
by Fae Holin, Managing Editor, Hay & Forage
“Our livestock producers are happy but our hay
growers are upset.” That sums up the general reaction of both groups
to USDA’s decision to make 24 million acres of Conservation Reserve
Program (CRP) land eligible for haying and grazing later this summer.
Steve Hessman, hay market reporter for the Kansas ag department and USDA
Market News, says that’s what he’s been hearing since last
Some growers have already lost
business, he adds. “One had some ground alfalfa hay verbally committed
to a drought area where they were going to feed it to cows. But they
cancelled the order because they’re going to fence (CRP land).”
Another grower contract to provide alfalfa was cancelled by a cattleman
who decided to swath and bale CRP grass to use with distillers grains,
“But it’s a lifesaver to the livestock
guys out here in parts of western Kansas, eastern New Mexico and eastern
Colorado where it’s really dry,” he says of the USDA decision.
“We’re sympathetic to the livestock producer’s
situation,” says Ron Tombaugh, National Hay Association (NHA)
president. “We as much as anybody need to keep the livestock producer
viable. But there are a couple of things we don’t like (about making
CRP land available).”
“First of all, it’s competing
directly with the hay producer. And if it were only limited to producers
to use for their own livestock consumption, that’s fine. But if
everybody can harvest it and sell it out of the cash market, then we
take issue with that,” says Tombaugh, who is also a commercial hay
grower from Streator, IL.
Producers not only will get free
feed, Tombaugh adds, but also the CRP payment for not harvesting it.
“They’re getting paid for the crop twice. The government hasn’t
done that before.” In fact, this is the first time CRP acreage has
been released for harvesting on a nationwide basis. USDA estimates that
up to 18 million tons of forage worth $1.2 billion could become
Hay producers have already paid for fertilizer,
preservatives, twine and other inputs, says Tombaugh. “And now the
bottom-end of the market is going to fall off. Granted it’s not going
to be quality hay. But it’s going to make the poorer hay cheaper.”
NHA is drafting a letter of complaint to USDA Ag Secretary Ed Schafer,
In Schafer’s announcement, he stated that
participants will be allowed to hay or graze CRP acres after the primary
nesting season for nesting birds ends but before Nov. 11. Each
participant must reserve at least one-fourth of his CRP acres for
wildlife habitat, and must have an approved conservation plan in place.
The most environmentally sensitive CRP land, such as wetlands and filter
strips, aren’t eligible.
Signup began Monday at local Farm
Service Agency offices. Participants will each be charged a $75
administration fee for modifying existing CRP contracts, but their
program rental payments won’t be reduced. The primary nesting season
ends in late July or early August. A map showing nesting season dates
and durations by state, and additional details on CRP haying and
grazing, are at www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation.
“Hay is not a program crop,” Tombaugh says, “and thus
does not receive any
farm payments or subsidies. We are the basis for most conservation
and wildlife habitat, and have the most environmentally friendly crop
covers over 55% of the contiguous U.S. We are not happy about having an
additional 24 million acres put back into the market to compete against
USDA reporter Hessman adds that one commercial alfalfa
grower whose fields are surrounded by CRP land isn’t going to fight
the decision. He’s going to custom bale as many CRP acres as he
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Processing Plant Switches Locations
An alfalfa processing plant slated to open last month
in Rapid City, SD, instead will be in Lincoln, NE. Joel Gutierrez,
president of Southeast Ranch LLC, says the company’s Rapid City
facility will be used as a warehouse for purchased hay, which will be
processed in the 341,000-sq ft Lincoln plant. From there it will be sent
by rail to a port in Jacksonville, FL, for overseas shipment. The plant,
a former Ace Hardware distribution center, was expected to be
operational by the end of May.
Gutierrez says most of the alfalfa hay processed in the plant will be
purchased within 250 miles of Lincoln and Rapid City. The hay must be
green and is preferred to be no more than 15% moisture and a minimum of
16% protein, 22% crude fiber, 10.5% ash and 2.5% fat. The company is
buying hay now, and small square, large square and round bales are all
accepted, he says.
For more information, go to www.seranch.com or contact Southeast
Ranch LLC at 877-350-2690 or email@example.com.
Iowa Custom Rates For Fuel Spike
Iowa’s 2008 Farm Custom Rate Survey, published in
March, already needs updating because of increasing fuel prices, says
William Edwards, the extension economist who conducted the survey.
“The phone has been ringing off the hook,” Edwards says. Growers
have been wondering how best they can adjust fuel prices, as the survey
assumes diesel fuel at $2.75/gallon delivered to the farm, he adds. If
diesel fuel costs $4/gallon today, the total cost of planting, spraying
and harvesting will increase by 7-10%, he estimates, and tillage by
10-15%, depending on the depth at which the soil’s tilled.
For estimated fuel consumption values per acre for many mechanical field
chores, growers may want to use ISU Extension publication Pm-709,
“Fuel Required for Field Operations.” Multiplying the fuel used per
acre by the change in the price of fuel since the survey was conducted
can provide an estimate of the most-recent cost increases per acre. This
publication can be found at www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM709.pdf.
Or call 515-294-5247. The 2008 survey can be downloaded at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/FM1698.
Call Edwards at 515-294-6161 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Are You Handling High Fuel, Fertilizer Costs?
With prices for fuel and fertilizer spiking, growers
are looking for ways to save. What’s working for you? Send us an email
explaining your idea(s) at email@example.com. Include
your name, address and phone number. The person with the most original
and practical idea gets a $50 gift card courtesy of Hay & Forage
Grower. Deadline for entries: June 6.
Forum Specializes In Forages
A new forum set up specifically for discussions among
hay and forage growers is now open at www.HayTalk.com. The Web site was
developed by Jim Brown, a retired Air Force member, and was designed by
his college-student son, Zachary. Brown works in Indianapolis, IN, and
grows hay with his brother, John, in north-central Indiana. “Our hope
is to provide a forum for hay and forage folks to come together and talk
about their trade,” says Brown. “We want to create a community that
brings together hay farmers from all around the world.”
The site includes sections on Alfalfa/Hay/Silage, Pasture/Grazing,
Livestock, Machinery, Hay and Forage Testing, Farm Safety, and Insects
and Disease. Brown plans to add a section on custom harvesting in the
future. The site also features a Marketplace where users can buy and
sell products or services, and also Shop Talk and Politics sections.
Brown wants to keep the advertising on the site to a minimum for now –
just to generate the funds to keep it open. “I just want to try to
help the forage community and create a place where we can get together,
help each other out, and make some friends,” he says.
Contact Brown at 618-334-0940 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hay Directory Calls For Entries
The Colorado Department of Agriculture is accepting hay
grower listings for its 2008 Colorado Hay Directory. The annual
publication helps market Colorado hay to buyers in the state and around
“We receive calls from buyers across the country looking for Colorado
hay,” says Wendy White, state ag department marketing specialist.
“This directory is a great tool to market one of the state’s top
The listing fee is $25 per submission, and deadline is June 15. The free
directory will be available in August at www.coloradoagriculture.com and
www.coloradohay.org. Each listing includes the type and amount of hay
available, bale type and size, whether or not laboratory analysis is
available, certified weed-free status and it identifies organic hay.
Colorado Hay and Forage Association members can list for free. To become
a member, contact Jared Anderson at 970-774-4429, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.coloradohay.org.
For more information or to receive a listing form, contact the Markets
Division at 303-239-4115, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.coloradoagriculture.com.
Alfalfa hay production may be down 25-30% in Kansas
this year, estimates Steve Hessman, hay market reporter for the state ag
department and USDA Market News. The reasons: fewer alfalfa acres and a
late first cutting, he says.
According to the National Ag Statistics Service, 10-15% of hay acreage
in the state was converted to corn and soybeans this year.
“Higher-production alfalfa hay acres have been taken out – mainly
irrigated acres or areas that have good rainfall or good submoisture,”
Hessman adds. “A lot of dryland hay, especially in western Kansas,
would have been taken out but there wasn’t the moisture to plant
A 10-day to two-week late start on first cutting, because of cool
weather, will affect yields. “Alfalfa is a forgiving crop and we may
get compensation in other cuttings, but we know we won’t have that
last cutting of the season,” he says. “It’s going to make hay
Contact Hessman at 620-227-8881.
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“I’m going to have an enormous crop of hay,” says
Larry Brogan of L.J. Hay, Inc., Hanoverton, OH. “Some things could
come along and broadside us later in the summer, but I’m looking at a
picture-perfect first cutting.”
He credits timely rains and generous fertilization, especially the
nitrogen he put on his grass hay fields. “That was money
well-spent,” says Brogan. “Even though nitrogen prices are at record
highs, nitrogen still makes you money. You can’t take it off if you
don’t put it on.”
Although some of his neighbors are well into their first cuttings, he
plans to start this week. He’s been busy building a second hay barn,
and his fields have been a bit too wet, anyway. “I think too much of
my seedings to go out there and track them up,” he says.
Ohio hay auction prices had been at record levels, but have softened
some the last week or two. “Some hays are down 50 cents on the dollar,
but I think it’s short-lived,” says Brogan. “Anybody who knows
they’re going to need hay might be watching some of these weekly
auctions.” He foresees a hay shortage later this year, with prices for
dairy-quality hay hovering just above or below $200/ton.
He grows about 1,000 acres of alfalfa, timothy and orchardgrass in pure
stands and mixtures for the dairy and horse markets, and buys roughly
5,000 additional tons per year for resale. He also buys 2,000-3,000
acres of straw in the field, bales and sells it.
Call Brogan at 800-622-9902.
Day Deals With Input Costs, High-Moisture Hay
Managing input costs and high-moisture hay will be the
focuses of a June 12 Hay Day sponsored by the University of Tennessee
Extension Service. To be held at the Shady Brook Angus Farm, Leoma, TN,
educational tours on input costs, high-moisture hay and cattle and grass
will begin at 1 p.m. Equipment demonstrations will also be held.
For more information, contact Brian White at 731-968-5266 or Calvin
Bryant at 931-762-5506.
June 6-8 -- Western States Horse Expo, Cal Expo
Fairgrounds, Sacramento, CA. Call 800-352-2411 or visit www.horsexpo.com.
June 10-11 -- Wisconsin Grazing School, River Falls. Call
June 11-12 -- Four-State Dairy Nutrition And Management
Conference, Grand Harbor Conference Center, Dubuque, IA. Covering
dairy industry topics for Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.
Contact Evonne Hausman at email@example.com.
June 24-25 -- Wisconsin Grazing School, Gleason. Call
June 25-26 -- Farm Progress Hay Expo, Ossian, IA, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
June 28 -- 2008 Illinois Forage Expo, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Smith
Family Farms near Mount Vernon. Visit web.extension.uiuc.edu/regions/ag.
July 11-13 -- North Carolina Equine Extravaganza, North Carolina
State Fairgrounds, Raleigh. Learn more at www.equineextravaganza.com.
July 22 -- Wisconsin Grazing School, Fond du Lac. Call
Aug. 19-20 -- Wisconsin Grazing School, Richland Center. Call
Sept. 4 -- Kentucky Forage & Grassland Council Field Day,
Christian County. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage/.
Sept. 17-20 -- National Hay Association Convention, Oak Brook
Hills Marriott, Oak Brook, IL. Contact Don Kieffer at 800-707-0014, or
Sept. 30-Oct. 4 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center,
Madison, WI. Visit www.worlddairyexpo.com.
Oct. 23 -- Kentucky Grazing Conference, Fayette County extension
office, Lexington. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage/.
Oct. 31-Nov. 2 -- Virginia Equine Extravaganza, Richmond Raceway,
Richmond. Learn more at www.equineextravaganza.com.
Nov. 6-7 -- 2008 BEEF Quality Summit, sponsored by
BEEF magazine, Antlers Hilton Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO. Visit
Nov. 13-16 -- Massachusetts Equine Affaire, Eastern States
Exposition Center, West Springfield. Visit www.equineaffaire.com.
Dec. 2-4 -- California Alfalfa & Forage Symposium, Town & Country
Resort and Hotel, San Diego. Learn more at alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/2008AlfalfaConference/.
Dec. 5-6 -- 2008 Missouri Livestock Symposium, Kirksville.
Programs for horse, beef cattle, sheep, meat goat and forage producers,
and trade show. Details at missourilivestock.com, or call Bruce Lane at
660-665-9866 or Garry Mathes at 660-341-6625.
Feb. 15-16, 2009 -- Southwest Hay And Forage Conference, Ruidoso,
NM. Contact Gina Sterrett at 575-626-5677 or Justin Boswell at
June 21-23, 2009 -- American Forage & Grassland Council Annual
Conference, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids, MI. Call
800-944-2342 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Calendar.
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