Friday, December 30, 2011

NM ranchers, farmers pinched by high hay prices

Hay prices in New Mexico and the West are climbing and there's no end in sight at least through May. The high cost of hay is hurting not only horse owners, but dairy and beef producers. "Our producers are even going to Canada to buy hay," said Beverly Idsinga, executive director of the New Mexico Dairy Association. "You know it is bad when they have to go that far." Hay prices are a boon, however, to the state's alfalfa producers who are pulling in their best prices in years. Some are getting double what they were paid a year ago for a ton of hay. Poor alfalfa production, low forage supplies and increased demand from livestock and dairy producers all hit the hay market at the same time. "These forces when combined have constituted historically high hay prices," according to an October report by agricultural economists Jerry M. Hawkes and Terry L. Crawford at New Mexico State University. "As the growing season in New Mexico comes to an end for 2011, expectations for continued upward movement in prices are anticipated." Increased prices paid for corn, wheat and cotton also spurred many hay producers to switch crops. Western states saw a 15 percent decline in hay production. Hawkes and Crawford estimated total hay production in the U.S. was the lowest this year since 1993. "The supply in New Mexico is estimated to be well below historical averages," the economists said...more

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