Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Drought Cripples Hay Feed Industry - Alfalfa Crop Worst Since 1953
Widespread drought has scorched much of the pastureland and hay fields needed to sustain cattle herds in the U.S., forcing many ranchers to find feed alternatives or sell their animals early into what has become a soft beef market. The shortage has led to higher hay prices, with some farmers saying they have to pay two to three times last year's rates. While crop insurance is curbing losses for the big corn, soybean and wheat growers during this year's severe drought, cattle and dairy farmers still have to pay high prices for feed, including hay. Despite farmers setting aside more land to grow hay this year, they are still producing a lot less because of the drought, according to a recent Department of Agriculture estimate. Hay futures don't trade on national exchanges, and statistics are difficult to find for hay, which can be made from a number of tall grassy plants. The harvest of alfalfa, generally considered to make the best hay because of its high nutrient levels, is forecast to be the worst since 1953, according to the USDA. Farmers and ranchers will produce about 120 million tons of hay this year, but that estimate could change, since about 63% of the land used to grow hay is in drought-stricken areas, according to the USDA...more