Iowa Hay Prices Fairly Stable, Poor Quality Hay Fetches Less

By George Ford, Reporter

In this July 18, 2012 photo, a cow on Kevin Heiserman's Rowley farm feed on hay near Rowley, Iowa. Heiserman started feeding hay three weeks ago, several weeks earlier than he has in the past, due to the dry pasture. Widespread drought in the U.S. has forced ranchers to sell off animals, leading to the fewest cattle in at least four decades. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Liz Martin) MAGS OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, TV OUT

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By Belinda Yeung

DYERSVILLE, Iowa - Higher quality hay remains in short supply, selling for anywhere from $270 to $320 a ton at auctions Wednesday in Dyersville and Fort Atkinson.

That’s more than three times what high quality hay was fetching in the spring. Livestock producers have been placing orders to buy hay “at any price” as they face higher prices for corn as an alternative feedstock.

Randy Hess, co-owner of Dyersville Sales Co., said more than 1,100 tons of hay was sold with lower quality hay priced at $20 to $30 per ton lower than two weeks ago.

No auction was held in Dyersville last Wednesday during the Dubuque County Fair.

“Farmers are baling up hay from the CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) and the road ditches, which is low quality hay,” Hess said. “There will be plenty of that hitting the market, which took the pressure off prices yesterday.

“There’s going to continue to be a shortage of higher quality hay. I think prices likely will continue to stay fairly steady.”

At the Fort Atkinson Hay Auction, the high load of the day was a small lot of 3-by-3 bales at $325 per ton, followed by a load of small square bales at $320 per ton.

“The range in prices widened as sellers are finding hay from last year (or earlier) to sell into the high prices now,” said Carl Shirk, owner and auctioneer at the Fort Atkinson Hay Auction. “Most of this goes to be grinding hay or to supplement weak pastures.

“The higher quality hay sells very well.”

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the third cutting of Iowa’s alfalfa hay crop was 63 percent complete by Sunday, just over a month ahead of normal.

Less than 20 percent of Iowa’s pasture and range land is rated in fair or better condition. Pasture and range condition is rated 55 percent very poor, 27 percent poor, 15 percent fair and 3 percent good.

No portion is rated excellent.

On July 23, the USDA announced that it was releasing additional acres under the CRP and Wetlands Reserve Program for haying and grazing. The authorization for haying and grazing of CRP and WRP was effective Thursday, and haying activities must be completed by Aug. 31.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey on Thursday said hay from both programs can be included in the Iowa Hay and Straw Directory, which lists producers with hay and straw for sale. Farmers interested in listing should visit the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s web site at
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