A summer with drought-like conditions has had a devastating impact on the Thunder Bay region’s hay crop, leaving an all but captive market to the east for district farmers with hay surpluses.
Rudy Buitenhuise, ag rep for the Thunder Bay region, said hay yields are way down. In fact, he noted yesterday pastures are so dry that farmers already have started feeding their livestock winter feed.
“We have some guys looking at some pretty severe shortages of hay,” he continued. “A number of my guys have been making contacts with your guys and already are hauling it in.”
Buitenhuise didn’t think it would be hard for farmers in Rainy River District to find buyers for their surplus hay. “Anyone who has hay to sell has had three calls for every bale he has to sell,” he added.
“Thunder Bay is crying for it,” agreed Glenn Galusha, who farms in Devlin. “There hasn’t been very much rain there all summer.”
It’s a different story here, with Galusha, for one, saying his hay numbers are way up from last year. He’s had a couple of calls so far from women looking to buy hay for horses.
Buitenhuise noted a fair number of beef producers also are looking for hay. But the big cry is coming from the roughly 50 dairy farms in the Thunder Bay region, who not only want quantity but quality.
“The dairy guys want a good second or first crop of alfalfa,” Galusha said.
“If you’re a dairy farmer paying for feed, you want good quality and you’re willing to pay for it,” Buitenhuise agreed.
There’s no such thing as a set price for buying hay, he added. Instead, a deal has to be struck between each buyer and hay producer for the cost of round and square bales.
Galusha said he’s been selling his 950-pound round bales for about $35. Other farmers may be charging more or less, he added, plus there can be extra added on to cover transportation costs.
Right now, Buitenhuise said, determining the price pretty much lies in the hands of hay producer, not the buyer. “A producer in your area is going to say ‘How much can I get for it here,’” he noted.