Hay Shortage Could Impact Some Cattle Farmers

JONESBORO, AR -- This summer's dry weather has contributed to a hay shortage across the United States and right here in Region 8.

For cattle farmers and people who raise horses, this shortage could lead to the selling off of livestock.

Some farmers in Region 8 say they are getting calls every week about getting extra hay, but there's only one answer.

"The ones that have been calling, the only thing we can tell them is that its' sold out," said Dennis Lambreth.

The reasons for the shortage are dry weather and intense heat.

"It was a dry summer here.  The hay that could be watered it was very good," said Lambreth.

One solution for the rough year some hay farmers have had could be irrigation, but extension agent Eric Grant said that's not possible for some.

"Where they're located may be in a hilly area and unless they have access to someway to dam up a ravine, more than likely they can't drill a well and get plentiful water," said Grant.

The early freeze combined with no rain has left many looking for extra hay this winter.  While they have local customers, many hay producers sell to people in other states as well.  For some of the cattle farmers, it's already looking like a hard winter because they won't have enough hay to make it to spring.

"They'll have to liquidate some cattle.  That means sell them at market for whatever they can get," said Grant.

Many farmers had to go up on their prices this year.  Some say the price to plant and grow hay has more than tripled over the past several years.