Jerome--In Jerome County, Ken Miller is getting in the third cut of hay. Its been a tough season for hay prices so far…and quality has been a problem.
“Well, up and down,” said Miller. “It the hay tests well it was a good price but if the test wasn’t good, there’s a lot of feeder hay so the price wasn’t as good.”
Hay nose-dived this summer dropping below $140 for Supreme, good quality hay dropped just above the hundred dollar mark in Idaho. Suddenly the demand has picked up.
“We’re getting a lot more exports opening up with the quality of hay we’re bringing in, in Idaho. Plus the dairies are getting a little bit of a boost in their economy. Milks is up into the $19 on their milk which is pretty high for a dairy. And then with all the new equipment we can make better quality hay and that makes the market want us more than any other state,” said Travis McAffee, Chairman of the Idaho Farm Bureau Hay and Forage Committee.
The National Ag Stats Service says there are about 1.3 million acres in Idaho hay this year —That’s estimated to bring in 5 million tons, most of which will go to the dairy industry or shipped overseas.
“I think the fourth cut will stay right there around the $180-dollar mark if we can keep the weather to help us out, the hay will be there. The markets will still want us. Right now exports are looking at us because we have the softest hay, we can make, when go into making pellets and hay for pet stores, we have the softest hay, that’ll keep the market up there around $180,” said McAffee.
Hay is averaging out this season to $158 a ton, down $2 a ton from last year, but with more acres and stepped up demand, hay might be the money-making crop that farmers need to break even in a very tough year.