Wisconsin producers worry over hay shortage, high prices

Associated Press
Some livestock owners may have to make tough decisions due to increased hay prices.

MADISON (AP) — Wisconsin livestock owners and feed suppliers are growing concerned about hay shortages this winter, which some say have contributed to a spike in prices.

New Lisbon farmer Connie Wastlund told Wisconsin Public Radio that she's feeding her horses in smaller quantities because she can't find enough hay this year. Flooding in August contaminated hay fields in the area, rendering the feed unusable for some livestock, Wastlund said. The wet weather also made it difficult for famers to cut hay this season.

Wastlund said her family has had to make tough financial decisions because of increased hay prices.

"Unfortunately, it means some of my bills aren't getting paid in full every month," she said. "Some of (the) things we had planned to do this winter, we're not going to be able to do."

Richard Halopka, a crops and soils agent with University of Wisconsin-Extension in Clark County, said he doesn't believe there's a hay shortage in Wisconsin, but rather the hay available is lower quality than people would like to purchase. Halopka said the biggest price increases have been for low quality hay.

Jeremy Cordts, manager of Reynolds Feed & Supply in Cobb, said hay prices in the area are higher than normal. Cordts' business planned for the market having a limited amount of hay, and now the store that predominantly sold locally is seeing interest from producers across northern Wisconsin.

Cordts said he's seeing producers willing to pay a premium for hay because of the limited supply.

"The only positive thing in the ag economy right now is that hay is worth good money," Cordts said. "But on the same end, you've got farmers with horrible milk prices, horrible cattle prices, corn and bean prices aren't much, and those are the same people who gotta buy hay back."