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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hay expensive, grass gone, cattle getting sold

"The smallest U.S. hay crop in more than a century is withering under a record Texas drought, boosting the cost of livestock feed for dairy farmers and beef producers from California to Maryland.
The price of alfalfa, the most common hay variety, surged 51 percent in the past year, reaching a record $186 a short ton in May, government data show. Hay and grass make up about half of what cattle eat over their lifetimes, so parched pastures are forcing ranchers to find alternative sources of feed, pushing some spot-market corn to the highest ever.
Farmers in Oklahoma and in Texas, the biggest producer of hay and cattle, may harvest only one crop from alfalfa and Bermuda grass this year, compared with three normally, said Larry Redmon, a state forage specialist at Texas A&M University."
"Rising feed costs are prompting a reduction in cattle herds and eroding profit for milk producers. The USDA yesterday forecast retail-meat prices may increase this year as much as 7 percent and dairy products may jump 6 percent, more than the rate of overall food inflation at 3 percent to 4 percent."

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