Hay has become a rare commodity since drought and fires have destroyed many hay supplies across the United States.

Jack Carson of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture said, “If we continue to have a short supply of hay, livestock producers are going to have to reduce their number of cattle. Some will have to liquidate their herds completely.”

Carson said there is still hay in Oklahoma, but the areas in the state that had the most wildfire damage are the areas that are facing shortage problems. He said the wildfires burned many hay fields.

To help deal with the shortage, the department of agriculture has tried to green up cattle areas by growing spring grass. However, it provides only a short term solution.

“We’re still very concerned with how dry the spring has been because of the new crop of hay supplies,” he said.

The hay shortage has also led to higher hay prices.

“Some people have told me that they (prices) have increased to the point they can’t afford it (hay),” Carson said.

Because the shortage has caused people to start selling cattle, Oklahoma’s agriculture industry will probably start losing money.

Carson said the drought has caused more problems for the agriculture industry than just the hay shortage.

“Ponds are going dry,” he said. “Wheat farmers are facing their worst crop in years.”

He said the USDA had offered programs to help deal with these problems, including drilling wells.

“They were drilling wells,” he said. “But funds have been exhausted. We’re waiting on Congress to fund more emergency programs.”

Carson said dry ponds, water sources for livestock, have caused producers to either move cattle to areas where they can get water or liquidate their herds.

Although there had been some rain, he said it was not significant enough to help with the problems because the damage was already done.

Carson said the hay shortage was not just affecting cattle ranchers.

“If the hay shortage continues, we will see further reductions (in livestock),” he said. “It’s a grave situation, not just for livestock producers, but for the agriculture industry.”

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