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Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Penton Media Publication June 3, 2008 |  
Top Of The News CRP Release Rankles Hay Growers
More News Alfalfa Processing Plant Switches Locations Adjust Iowa Custom Rates For Fuel Spike How Are You Handling High Fuel, Fertilizer Costs? Online Forum Specializes In Forages Colorado Hay Directory Calls For Entries
State Reports Kansas Ohio
Events Hay Day Deals With Input Costs, High-Moisture Hay Calendar
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Top Of The News
CRP Release Rankles Hay Growers
by Fae Holin, Managing Editor, Hay & Forage Grower
“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 Tuesday’s announcement.

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, Hessman says.

“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 available.

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, he says.

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

“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 programs and wildlife habitat, and have the most environmentally friendly crop that 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 us!”

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 can.

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More News
Alfalfa 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 or contact Southeast Ranch LLC at 877-350-2690 or

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Adjust 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 Or call 515-294-5247. The 2008 survey can be downloaded at

Call Edwards at 515-294-6161 or email him at

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How 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 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.

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Online Forum Specializes In Forages
A new forum set up specifically for discussions among hay and forage growers is now open at 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

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Colorado 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 the country.

“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 crops.”

The listing fee is $25 per submission, and deadline is June 15. The free directory will be available in August at and 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 or visit

For more information or to receive a listing form, contact the Markets Division at 303-239-4115, send e-mail to or visit

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State Reports
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 anything else.”

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 tight.”

Contact Hessman at 620-227-8881.

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Harvest more profit from your alfalfa hay sales

Get top dollar for quality alfalfa hay with less hassle. If you are within 250 miles of either Lincoln, NE or Rapid City, SD, we haul with our trucks. Prices based on farm pickup. Go to for all the details and contact us. We are buying now and will pickup in the field.
“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.

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Hay 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.

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June 6-8 -- Western States Horse Expo, Cal Expo Fairgrounds, Sacramento, CA. Call 800-352-2411 or visit

June 10-11 -- Wisconsin Grazing School, River Falls. Call 715-425-3345.

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

June 24-25 -- Wisconsin Grazing School, Gleason. Call 715-425-3345.

June 25-26 -- Farm Progress Hay Expo, Ossian, IA, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit

June 28 -- 2008 Illinois Forage Expo, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Smith Family Farms near Mount Vernon. Visit

July 11-13 -- North Carolina Equine Extravaganza, North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh. Learn more at

July 22 -- Wisconsin Grazing School, Fond du Lac. Call 715-425-3345.

Aug. 19-20 -- Wisconsin Grazing School, Richland Center. Call 715-425-3345.

Sept. 4 -- Kentucky Forage & Grassland Council Field Day, Christian County. Learn more at

Sept. 17-20 -- National Hay Association Convention, Oak Brook Hills Marriott, Oak Brook, IL. Contact Don Kieffer at 800-707-0014, or visit

Sept. 30-Oct. 4 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison, WI. Visit

Oct. 23 -- Kentucky Grazing Conference, Fayette County extension office, Lexington. Learn more at

Oct. 31-Nov. 2 -- Virginia Equine Extravaganza, Richmond Raceway, Richmond. Learn more at

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

Dec. 2-4 -- California Alfalfa & Forage Symposium, Town & Country Resort and Hotel, San Diego. Learn more at

Dec. 5-6 -- 2008 Missouri Livestock Symposium, Kirksville. Programs for horse, beef cattle, sheep, meat goat and forage producers, and trade show. Details at, 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 575-840-9908.

June 21-23, 2009 -- American Forage & Grassland Council Annual Conference, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids, MI. Call 800-944-2342 or email

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Comments From Readers
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For information on Hay & Forage Grower, contact:
Neil Tietz, Editor,
Fae Holin, Managing Editor,

For specific information from past issues of eHay Weekly and Hay & Forage Grower, click on, and use the search function in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.

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