There has been a shift in the weather toward the Little Ice Age pattern, with big storms, late heavy rains, flooding, and even snow into the start of Summer / late Spring at higher elevations. Not just in the USA, but all over. Europe, China, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, South America.
This has resulted in lots of crop losses, very late planting (or even not planting), and price rises.
Some long time ago I did a story about hay. Most city folks don’t think much about hay, but it is what gets your grazing farm animals through the winter and onto fresh spring pasture. Horses and cows are called “hay burners” for a reason. Whilie lately we have gone to a more exotic collection of feeds, including DDG Distillers Dried Grains from making all that ethanol for diluting gasoline, hay is still an essential. We entered this year with low hay inventory due to low rainfall in the northern hay producing regions in prior years. Then this year has been so wet that transporting and harvesting hay have been problematic. Finally, a very late start to spring pasture growth means feeding hay longer… when none can be had… That’s a problem.
So hay prices have shot way up. Folks who feed hay to cattle are selling the animals to meat packers early (so buy and freeze some beef now…) while folks who have horses are paying any price to keep them fed and bedded (much hay is needed to keep barns functioning even if not eaten).
It is highly likely there will be a big spike in meat prices after the effects work through the system. Now add in that China is having a terrible time with swine flu and are trying to buy up replacement pork / pigs from all over the world (so pork prices will not be low any time soon) and chickens need “chicken feed” that is largely corn and soybeans (both late to plant so likely a low yield) and you can see where this is going.
Here’s where we were 3 months ago. It has not gotten better.
(All CAPS theirs)
HAY SHORTAGE GROWS, PRICES NEARLY DOUBLE
HAY BUYERS NEED WINTER TO GET OVER SOON.
By Mike McGinnis
DES MOINES, Iowa — As winter storms continue to pound the upper Midwest, cow/calf and feedlot operators are running out of hay to feed their animals.
With snow stunting the growth of spring pastures, the depth of the hay shortage that started in the drought-stricken fall of 2017 has been exacerbated.
Usually cattle farmers can kick animals out to pasture May 1, but that will not be the case this year.
So, the need for hay is extending further into spring than normal.
Paul McGill, owner of Rock Valley, Iowa, Hay Auction Co., sells hay to buyers in Iowa and Minnesota. “We need winter to get over soon,” McGill says.
Well the rains and flooding have continued across the Midwest. Some parts have dried enough they can likely start to pasture the animals, but a lot of the land is still flooded or so soggy a cow will get stuck. In others, it may be dry but a couple of months of growth has been lost. It isn’t over even when the water dries off.
HAY PRICES SURGE
Of course, this a supply/demand story right now for the hay market.
Large round bales of hay are selling for $75 to $90 per ton higher than a year ago, McGill says.
Specifically, alfalfa-grade hay bales are priced between $140 and $165 per ton, while grass, midquality hay bales are selling for $125 to $150 per ton.
This week’s blizzard cut McGill’s northwest Iowa auction company’s sales of hay that it does have to offer.
“On Monday, we moved only 14 semi-loads of large bales vs. 92 semi-loads a week ago. Since the first of the year, we have seen sales below average,” McGill says.
There is some hay around, it is just hard to get to it, he says.
What’s the government got to say?
Randomely taking the first report from South Dakota (that ought not to be flooded by the Mississippi…) It looks like they have started getting hay loads with 30, double 2 weeks ago and much more than last year. Alfalfa is now $165 / ton for new crop when it was $140 – $165 just a couple of months ago. The mid-grade “good” quality “grass” is at $145 when it had been $125-$150. That alfalfa in “fair” condition is available at $115 +/- so somebody will be eating crummy hay…
I’ve bolded a couple of places where they say some kinds of cheaper hay are now “scarce”. One of them says “scare” and I’ve got to wonder if that’s a typo or a slip of the emotional state… Also note these prices are FOB SD so trucking it to Iowa is going to cost… (Iowa gets a lot of hay from South Dakota)
Sioux Falls, SD Tues June 11, 2019 USDA-SD Dept of Ag Market News
Corsica, SD Hay and Straw Auction for Monday, June 10, 2019
Receipts: 30 Loads Two Weeks Ago: 15 Loads Last Year: 13 Loads
All prices dollars per ton FOB Corsica, SD.
One load Small Squares equals approximately 5 tons; Large Squares and
Large Rounds range from 10-25 tons per load.
Alfalfa: Premium: Large Rounds, 1 load 162.50 (New Crop). Good:
Small Squares, 1 load $5.10/bale (New Crop); Large Rounds, 3 loads
122.50-127.50 (1 load 127.50 New Crop 10-15% Moisture). Fair: Large
Rounds, 8 loads 112.50-117.50. Utility: Large Rounds, 1 load 102.50.
Grass: Good: Large Rounds, 1 load 145.00. Fair: Large Rounds, 8
loads 110.00-127.50. Utility: Large Rounds, 3 loads 97.50-102.50.
Millet Hay: Large Rounds, 1 load 87.50-90.00.
Corn Stalks: Scarce.Alfalfa guidelines (domestic livestock use and not more than 10 pct grass) Quality ADF NDF RFV TDN-100 pct TDN-90 pct CP Supreme <27 185 >62 >55.9 >22 Premium 27-29 34-36 170-185 60.5-62 54.5-55.9 20-22 Good 29-32 36-40 150-170 58-60 52.5-54.5 18-20 Fair 32-35 40-44 130-150 56-58 50.5-52.5 16-18 Utility >35 >44 <130 <56 <50.5 <16
RFV calculated using the WI/MN formula. TDN calculated using the
western formula. Quantitative factors are approximate and many factors
can affect feeding value. Values based on 100 pct dry matter.
Quantitative factors are approximate, and many factors can affect
feeding value. Values based on 100 pct dry matter. End usage may
influence hay price or value more than testing results.Grass Hay guidelines Quality Crude Protein Percent Premium Over 13 Good 9-13 Fair 5-9 Utility Under 5
Then Ice Age Farmer has a couple of videos on corn, soybean, fruit and more. He can be a bit prone to “talking things up” but has a good collection of sources. And yes, I do think you ought to have some kind of food storage system (covered in depth in prior articles here: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/category/emergency-preparation-and-risks/ on “Dry Canning” and Food Storage in jars).
I do not think we’ll see much more than a meat price hike and some expensive farm feed. Since about 1/3 of corn goes into making gasoline that’s not as effective (hey, I’ve measured my mpg loss…) we can make up for a 1/3 loss of the corn crop by just putting the ‘ethanol mandate’ on hold for a while. Premium gas will likely take a price hike as a lot of ethanol is used to blend it for higher octane (with cheaper gasoline base). Still, if folks are stupid, and our law givers are, they will do nothing but talk and the Dimocrats will moan about “Global Warming”… so better to take care of it yourself.
I do believe in growing some percentage of your own food, if at all possible. I’ll have an update on my first hydroponic bed later. In just 2 weeks I have one lettuce transplant about ready for the first harvest! Others about 2 weeks behind it.
Here’s a couple of his videos:
Flooding in the USA and grain:
Fruit in China (& more):