Hay Acres Will Stay About the Same

Poll shows hay growers are not shifting to row crops

Published on: Jun 17, 2009

Higher row crop prices are competing with hay prices for acreage. With that in mind, Farm Progress editors conducted an unscientific survey at the recent Hay Expo at Hixton, Wisconsin.

Nearly 45% of producers responding to the survey say they plan to maintain about the same number of acres in hay next year as they now have. About 35% say they will increase acreage of hay next year. Joe Gordon, New Sharon, Iowa, will boost his acres from 100 in 2009 to 150 next year. Likewise, Thane Pederson, Whitehall, Wisconsin, plans to increase hay acres in 2010 from around 350 to over 400 acres. Only 20% say they will decrease hay acreage next season.

With regard to this year, 33% of show visitors responding to the poll say they switched some hay ground to row crops in 2009. The majority of respondents, 67%, reported they did not switch hay acres to row crops this year.

Break-even milk prices

Dairy farmers, who are suffering the lowest milk prices in several decades, are especially concerned about feed costs. Lower fertilizer prices should result in farmers who grow most of their own feed having lower inventory values for feed they will use this winter than last winter. But uncertainty seems to be the watchword.

When asked, “How much do you think lower feed production costs will trim your milk breakeven price this winter relative to last winter?”, 56% responded they did not know.

About 20% predicted lower feed costs would trim milk break-even prices by about 10%.

Pending legislation

On average, milk prices are $5 to $7 per cwt below the cost of production. A bill has been introduced in the United States Senate to amend the Agricultural Adjustment Act to require the Secretary of Agriculture to determine the price of all milk used for manufactured purposes, which shall be classed as Class II milk, by using the national cost of production. When asked if they felt this legislation would help dairy farmers, respondents were equally divided at 38% each between “yes and it will” and “don’t know.” The remaining 24% of those with dairy cattle who responded believe it will not help dairy farmers.