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The 49th Annual Hay Days Event and Auction were held in Rock Valley, Iowa Thursday. And farmers from around the area say the drought is having some impact on the hay market.
Buyers and sellers gather mainly for business at Hay Days, but they also mix in a little pleasure. Strap tossing, bale rolling, and some juicy burgers, help the farmers to unwind a little bit before the auction gets underway.
When it came down to business though, the mood wasn't quite as upbeat.
Last summer's severe drought took quite the toll on the hay supply in the Midwest. The US Department of Agriculture says hay supplies are at their most scarce level since 1974.
Tom Haug drove all the way up from Vermillion, KS for Hay Days and says the market for hay is not in the best shape. "It's expensive, high priced, and high everywhere."
That's forcing some farmers to travel in some cases, all the way to Canada to find affordable feed. Ray Marquardt from Barnes Hay, says, "They had an abundance up there in Canada and North Dakota because they had a lot of moisture. Even with the transportation it was cheaper than I could buy it here."
At the auction, prices are as much as 50% higher than they were last year. And it's not just buyers feeling the pinch - Midwestern sellers are also hurting
Hay Seller, Kerry Horn says, "Our crop was way less than what we normally get. Probably half. With the higher price, still you don't have as much gross income as what you would if you had a good crop."
To make it through next year almost everyone here can agree; we will need a wet spring to get the hay supply back where it needs to be.