High hay prices could impact your grocery bill - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

High hay prices could impact your grocery bill


Some food prices may soon be even higher as hay prices continue to rise. In past years, hay was around $125 to $175 per ton.  That price has risen to nearly $300 putting financial strain on some producers who simply don't have enough forage for their livestock.

Dave Nauman is a dairy farmer at his family farm in Sherrill.  For years, his family has made their own hay for their cattle.

"[We use] alfalfa, we direct seed it in the fall if we can. After we chop corn off and then in the following spring it's ready to go usually." Nauman said.

But usually is not the case this year.  As hay prices are beginning to climb, Nauman thinks of his hay as even more valuable.

"We are kind of fortunate in that we can raise enough feed to feed our own livestock, which guys that are buying feed...it's really hard with the high price feed costs." Nauman said.

Larry Tranel is a dairy field specialist for the Iowa State University Extension office in Dubuque. He says the rise in hay costs is caused by a couple of key contributing factors.

"With this last year's drought, just the whole feed situation the supply is so short on a lot of different commodities and so we saw some pretty good spikes in corn prices, every type of commodity prices. Especially on the hay prices, as more and more farmers put their fields into corn and we had less and less acres of alfalfa." Tranel said.

"It correlates both with the corn price, as more land moves to corn, grain production type things versus forage production. So as we take a look at the forage prices that we see across the board, they are definitely pretty tied well with the drought." Tranel said.

Tranel also said this year's longer winter played a part in the price change as well - Leading producers to struggle with supplying their livestock with enough hay.

"We have producers that are sitting out here in the last 10-12 bails of hay hoping that the grass is going to come soon enough." Tranel said.

"People were already short on forages before this long winter hit, so we did expect some pretty decent hay prices in the $250-$300 and even $350 price range through the winter. But now that we still had this extra month of feed and to take a look at 30 days out of 365 days of more feeding then you need to have that in storage and producers didn't have that. So they are looking to buy it someplace else and if its not there it is going to spike the price up." Tranel said.

The lack of alfalfa seen so far this year, comes after years of the complete opposite.

"We actually just had two years of completely opposite. Last year at this time we were doing peak readings on alfalfa and people were starting to take a look are we going to start cutting here on May 5th, May 10th and now we see that alfalfa on a day like today just barely coming out of the ground." Tranel said.

Tranel says food prices may ease in the future, but hay prices will take a couple of years to go down. He said the hay prices will begin to decline once more alfalfa is put into the ground.



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