Price of hay increases with shortage
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CLARENCE, N.Y.-This winter has been tough for many farmers nationwide and in Western New York.
The US Department of Agriculture says more than half of the nation’s pastures are in poor or very poor condition, because of the drought seen over the past summer.
Last year, the mild winter also fostered a swarm of army worms that damaged hay fields at Maple Row Farms in Clarence.
"What they did was almost within a two day period stripped the entire fields,” said Maple Row Farm Owner Hans Mobius.
"I’m concerned that we could have another really mild winter which will allow this army caterpillar to become abundant again and affect the hay crop,” said Brookfield Farms Owner Lynn Robinson.
Mobius relies on hay to feed the horses at his boarding facility and says prices have gone up due to the increasing shortage.
"We have half the amount of the hay that we had last year. The price has gone up. It’s doubled. We used to pay 3 dollars a bale, an average bale weighs 40 to 50 pounds and now we're paying six, seven dollars," said Mobius.
The dry weather in the Midwest has also affected grain prices locally.
"The grains come from there and there was a shortage with that too because of the drought and so the grain prices have also gone up significantly," said Robinson.
Over at Brookfield Farms down Salt Road, Robinson planned ahead before the insect invasion. However she said she's being more cognizant when feeding her animals.
"We’re very conservative on making sure that we're not wasting it. And also that the boarders all realized when we had this crisis and the prices were going to go up that we have to have a small surcharge on the hay,” said Robinson.
In the meantime Mobius plans to use the supply he has and hope for a bountiful harvest this spring.
"If we have nice, dry weather and we get an early first cutting. We’ll be in good shape," said Mobius.
Mobius says the only suitable alternative for feeding is grass and that can be tough to come by in the winter.