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Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication December 5, 2006 |  
Hay Supplies Tight In Northwest, California
Top of the News North Dakota Alfalfa Processing Plant Closes
State Reports Minnesota Wyoming
Events Conservation Tillage Meeting Discusses Energy Calendar
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Hay Supplies Tight In Northwest, California
There just isn't any extra hay sitting around in the northwestern U.S., reports Jack Getz, USDA Livestock & Grain Market News Branch, Moses Lake, WA. "If people are looking for hay, they may be hard-pressed to find exactly what they want and may just have to take what they can get, quality-wise," he explains. "Horse and feed-store hay of the better quality is pushing toward $200/ton, which is expensive for a lot of folks. As far as dairy hay and export hay, those prices are staying right up there because we just don't have a whole lot of hay. Prices are holding fairly well and the market is somewhat quiet because of the lack of available hay."

In California, hay buyers will have to look outside of the three big "milk shed" regions of the Petaluma, Turlock-Modesto-Escalon, and Tulare-Hanford-Bakersfield areas to find hay. "People looking for dairy hay are having to go all the way to southern Oregon, Nevada, Utah or into the southern desert of California. Even in those areas, hay is not plentiful, says Getz. Freight costs also become an issue.

Higher grain prices are affecting dairy producers as well. Some growers with older alfalfa fields are planning to plant corn instead. "If that corn price stays up there, planting corn looks more attractive than alfalfa to some producers," Getz says. Some dairy producers are trying to include more hay in the ration to offset high grain costs. But hay growers may not be getting much more money because of it. "When milk prices were lower, alfalfa prices could only go so high because dairymen were not making very much money due to those low milk prices," Getz explains. "Now, grain prices are high and even though the milk price has come up, the money now has to go toward grain."

Beef-cattle producers in California's coastal range are also taking a share of the hay available. They have had to feed hay sooner than they normally do because of dry conditions. "This is pulling on supplies of lower-end hay," says Getz.

Contact Getz at 509-765-3611.

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Top of the News
North Dakota Alfalfa Processing Plant Closes
The Heartland Feed alfalfa processing plant in Tioga, ND, has ceased operations, according to media reports from Williston. The plant received over $1.5 million in economic development funding; some of the money is not likely to be recovered, say state economic development officials.

Heartland Feed opened about two years ago with hopes of creating about a dozen jobs by making alfalfa pellets for sale to livestock handlers around the world. But a state commerce department official told the Tioga Tribune that the state is way down the line in recovering any money from Heartland Feed. A representative of USDA's rural development office in Bismarck says the local bank that holds the loans on the business has been trying to sell off the equipment.

Sources: KMXC TV and Tioga Tribune.

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State Reports
Hay demand has been steady in southwestern Minnesota, reports Kevin Nelson, Nelson Hay Co., Hadley. "The hay is moving and prices at local markets seem to be between $5 and $10 higher per ton than they were one year ago," he says. "With the high corn and soybean prices, there has been some talk lately about a number of hay acres coming out of hay production and going into corn. We may see a decline in alfalfa acres next year because of the price of corn and soybeans in the area."

Nelson says July was extremely dry in his area. "We had no rain at all in July so our third crop was quite small," he reports. "We got done baling third crop and then August and September were wet. We didn't finish baling fourth crop until Oct. 1 and 2 due to the wet weather. We had excellent quality and quantity with our fourth crop. We had one of the best fourth crops we have ever had."

Southwestern Minnesota is experiencing dry conditions now. Nelson estimates that the area is running 2-4" below normal rainfall. His region got 2" of snow, which melted quickly, in early November. A ¾" rainfall last week has been the only recent precipitation. "We could use some moisture," he states.

Nelson isn't taking large orders from new customers because he wants to be sure his regular horse-hay customers are supplied. He notes that money is getting tighter for horse-hay clients. "We can't really raise our hay prices even with a shortage of horse hay because the money just doesn't seem to be there right now. I think we are at the limit of what our customers can afford," he says.

At local auctions, Nelson notes, there seems to be only a $10 to $15 difference between poor- and good-quality hay.

Contact Nelson Hay Co. at 507-836-6181.

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Hay is getting hard to find in Wyoming, according to reports in the Jackson Hole Star Tribune. Years of drought take part of the blame because dry range conditions have led to a shortage of grass around the state. Many ranchers grazed fall and winter pastures this summer just to get by and will likely have to feed more hay this winter.

Irrigation districts generally had adequate water for producing hay, leading to average yields on irrigated fields. The big problem was with ranchers on small tributaries, who produce for their own use. With little water, they lost yields by as much as 50%, the paper reports. Intense heat contributed to reduced tonnage.

The Southern Great Plains drought of last winter and spring affected Wyoming's hay demand. Texas and Oklahoma buyers bought Wyoming hay out of the field last summer. Thus, supplies of hay that normally would have been marketed to the Wyoming cow-calf industry are pretty much gone.

There is speculation that cattle producers will have to look outside the normal marketplace for hay, pay more for it, move their cattle or adjust their feeding programs. Some ranchers may cull herds deeper than desired.

A few officials estimate that hay prices in parts of the state are averaging about $20/ton more this year as a result of drought and supply-and-demand market forces.

Premium Wyoming alfalfa hay sold at auction in Torrington has averaged $96.22/ton so far this year, compared to $79.58 in 2005, and $80.28 in 2004.

Source: Jackson Hole Star Tribune.

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Conservation Tillage Meeting Discusses Energy
Spiraling energy costs are forcing farmers to look at every agronomic practice on their operations, especially tillage. Learn how conservation tillage can help control input costs at the 2007 Conservation Tillage Conference and Expo, Jan. 30-31. The theme of this year's conference is "Eye On Energy" and it will be held at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Sioux Falls, SD.

University experts and conservation-focused farmers will look at ways conservation practices can help stretch energy dollars. The conference provides tillage information for beginners as well as veteran no-till, strip-till, ridge-till and mulch-till growers. The program offers four information tracks:

Track I: Learn The Basics: Tillage 101
Track II: Keep Corn-On-Corn Profitable
Track III: Manage Your Energy Costs
Track IV: Match New Technology To Tillage

To register, visit or call 800-722-5334, ext. 14698. The conference is brought to you by The Corn And Soybean Digest and Farm Industry News.

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**Dec. 11-13 -- Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Reno, NV. Contact Dan Putnam at 530-752-8982 or, or Glenn Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or

**Dec. 13-14 -- Kansas Hay & Grazing Conference, Kansas State Fairgrounds, Hutchinson. Call Gary Kilgore at 620-431-1530.

**Jan. 17-18 -- 2007 Washington State Hay Growers Association Annual Conference & Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick. Contact the Washington State Hay Growers Association at 509-585-5460.

**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention Center, Ruidoso, NM. Learn more at the New Mexico Hay Association Web site at Contact Doug Whitney at or call Gina Sterrett at 505-626-5677.

**Jan. 24-25 -- Heart Of America Grazing Conference, Holiday Inn, Mount Vernon, IL. Contact Justin Sexten, University of Illinois, at 618-242-9310 or

** Jan. 31-Feb 3 -- 2007 Cattle Industry Annual Convention & Trade Show, Nashville, TN. Learn more at Contact the National Cattlemen's Beef Association at 303-694-0305.

**Feb. 6-7 -- The Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney. Visit or call Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649.

**Feb. 7-8 -- Utah Hay & Forage Symposium, Holiday Inn Resort, St. George. Details are available at, or contact Thomas Griggs at 435-797-2259 or

**Feb. 9 -- Ohio Forage & Grassland Council Annual Conference, Reynoldsburg. Contact Mark Sulc at 614-292-9084.

**Feb. 22 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Cave City Convention Center. Learn more at

**Feb. 26-27 -- 2007 Idaho Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Red Lion Canyon Springs Hotel, Twin Falls. More details will be available at

**Feb. 28-March 2 -- National Grassfed Beef Conference, Grantville, PA. Contact John Comerford at 814-863-3661 or, or Dave Hartman at 570-784-6660, ext. 12, or

**March 13-14 -- 2007 Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, KCI Expo Center, Kansas City, MO. Learn more at

**March 14-15 -- 2007 Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product Showcase Building, Winnipeg, MB, CA. For more info, visit or contact Tanis Sirski at 204-768-2781 or

**March 21-22 -- 2007 Central Plains Dairy Expo, Sheraton Inn, Sioux Falls, SD. Learn more at or call Kathy Tonneson at 218-236-8420.

**June 23-26 -- 2007 American Forage and Grassland Council and Northeast Branch ASA & SSSA Annual Conference, Penn State Conference Center and Hotel, State College. Call 800-944-AFGC or email

** Jan 27-Feb. 1, 2008 -- Joint Society for Range Management and American Forage and Grassland Council Conference, Louisville, KY. Visit

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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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