Rising price of hay strains Texas farmers, ranchers

Prices have increased for fertilizer and diesel as well.
Prices have increased for fertilizer and diesel as well.(KTRE)
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 12:36 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2023 at 6:52 PM CST
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - East Texas ranchers are paying more for hay right now, and that added cost for them means higher prices for you.

George Woods, Manager of Lufkin Farm Supply said the said the cause of the current hay shortage is a mix between the summer drought Texas experienced, and rising fertilizer and diesel prices.

“We are looking at prices over the years and a farmer could say,’ I’m going to spend $30 dollars an acre to fertilize my hay, now it can be anywhere from $100 to $130 an acre,” Woods said.

Cary Sims, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, said the price increase of products needed to bail hay is something people should expect over the years. But fertilizer and diesel gas prices are increasing because of supply shortages. He said the summer drought was detrimental and something people couldn’t prepare for.

“The 2022 drought, oh my goodness, even you had put the money into those input cost, you didn’t see any return for that. That was probably the biggest factor, just the lack of rainfall,” Sims said.

Woods said because of the shortage the price of hay has doubled since last year. He said a traditional roll of hay was around $35 to $40 a roll last year. Now they are between $85 and $100 dollars a roll.

A square bale of hay could be purchased for $5 or $6. It is now sold for $13 to $15.

He said some farmers who have purchased hay from his store have decided to sell their livestock and quit farming.

“A lot of folks are having to kind of look back and take a glance and say, ‘hey do we put food on the table or do we take a different route’ and a lot of them are having to do that,” Woods said.

Sims said coming out of last year’s growing season they knew the stock would be low. Some farmers could have planted a winter pasture in October, to make up for the low stock of hay. The possibility of lack of rain makes it risky Many resorted to another way to supplement.

“There were a lot of folks that shipped in hay from hundreds of miles away to feed livestock throughout the winter,” Sims said.

Woods say his customers understanding of the prices.

“I talk to a lot of my customers every day, day in and day out, they understand its not us, yes we can absorb only so much then obviously we have to pass it on, just to stay in business,” Woods said. .

Sims said farmers can’t grow hay at this time, and so they are just stocking up until the next growing season.