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Hay Prices Climb During Drought

July 26, 2012, 9:55 PM by Perry Groten

Hay Prices Climb During Drought

The price of hay is skyrocketing along with the soaring temperatures during this hot, dry summer. 

Some farmers are paying more than $300 a ton for hay because their own pastures are too scorched to feed their livestock.  And buyers and sellers in northwest Iowa are making a bid to survive the drought.

Hay bales on the auction block are the gold standard for farmers struggling to feed their herds.

"We just had an adjuster out and our corn it was two bushel an acre, so we're hurting," Westfield, IA farmer Brad Banks said.

Hundreds of farmers come to the Rock Valley Hay Auction Company every Thursday to bid on hay by the truckload.

"Today, if we can do it, we might buy six loads, several tons, so it all depends how it shakes out," Banks said.

And the auction is truly an international event, with truckers hauling in hay from as far north as Canada, to as far south as Texas.

"There were years in there before where we sold very good dairy hay in the 40s and $50 a ton, so you stick with it long enough. I guess it comes around and you get your due," Morris, MN resident Robert Rinkenberger of said.

In times of drought, the hay crop becomes a seller's market.

"We got a $165 and that was right in the ballpark we were hoping for.  The quality we had, it's two-year-old hay so it kept well, but a newer crop will definitely bring more money," Rinkenberger said.

The hay is in such demand, it only takes about a minute for the auctioneer to settle on a winning bid before moving onto the next load, with 100 truckloads in all.  With so many farmers looking to buy, it pays to hay.

Alfalfa hay has sold as high as $320 a ton at the Rock Valley Auction Company.  Just one month ago, the hay was topping out at $180 a ton.

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