From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Leia Larsen):
Prolonged drought conditions have caused hay prices to soar statewide, putting a pinch on ranchers and livestock owners. In the Mountains and Northwest Colorado region, U.S. Department of Agriculture hay reports show current prices have leapt by about 54 percent since five years ago, from $6.50 a bale to $10 a bale. But Colorado’s most recent hay report, released on Aug. 15, may signal modest improvement.
“We’re seeing a weaker undertone to this market with monsoonal moisture coming in, and pasture conditions are improving,” said Randy Hammerstrom with the USDA-Colorado Agricultural Marketing Service.
A weaker market undertone means hay prices could start trending downward, but Hammerstrom cautions prices changes won’t be dramatic. He also said variables make market forecasting difficult if not impossible.
“I wouldn’t call it sharply lower,” he said. “There is still concern over inventory and lack of inventory, supplies are on the tight side.”
Inventories remain tight after drought conditions from the last two years. Kent Whitmer, of Lazy T Rocking K Ranch in Kremmling, sells hay to livestock owners throughout Colorado and in nearby states. Before the drought struck, he sold his hay for around $5.50 a bale. He’s now up to $9 a bale, and said his same weed-free certified hay goes for as much as $15 a bale at feed stores. With a particularly heavy drought hitting the southwest region of the U.S., demand from states like Texas and Oklahoma has pushed hay prices even further as they gobble up Colorado supplies at a premium…
“With prices going up, I see people getting out of having horses,” Whitmer said. “It’s a luxury — that’s the first thing to go before a car payment or mortgage for most people.”