South Georgia farmers are hit hard by hay shortage - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia farmers are hit hard by hay shortage

June 7, 2007

Valdosta - For a cow, a hay diet plays a crucial role in their health and profitability.

But this year, there's not much to eat.  "We've had a terrible shortage of hay this year," says cattle farmer Ellis Black.

With hay stocks down by 75 percent, calling it a shortage would be an understatement.  And what's left is flying off the farms faster than it can be produced.  "The people that are growing the hay actually have folks already waiting there to buy the hay," says Tommy Allen, Operations Manager at Western Hay.

With production down, the prices of available hay is increasing.  Leaving many cattle farmers searching for other alternatives.

The hay shortage has forced many farmers to add supplemental feed to their hay supply and others to leave the business all together.  "We've even had some people completely sell out and they'll buy back in when they get some grass to feed them,"  Black says.

Western Hay, a hay distribution center in Valdosta has opened its doors for the first time to farmers in need.  And see 10 to 15 customers a day.  "We started to bring in hay from Canada just trying to supply the local people to help them out," Allen says.

They'll continuing providing the hay, as long as they have it or until production increases.  But that may not be anytime soon.  "All the hay that's typically in the barn, in inventory, there is none.  The barns are all empty and to rebuild the inventory will probably take a year or two to do," says Dan Sprung, Manager of Western Hay.

But despite the dry conditions, most farmers are not giving up hope of finding and producing hay and pray next year will bring them better yields.

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