Hay hotline created to help ranchers
As ranchers try desperately to feed and save their herds in the wake of the worst one-year drought in Texas history, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline now lists 1,082 hay producers from 42 states selling forage. The Hay Hotline was recently updated with several improvements and now includes hay prices, information on transportation services to deliver hay, and available grazing lands.
“The Hay Hotline is a perfect example of farmers and ranchers hearing the call and stepping up to help their fellow producers,” Staples said. “We’re thankful to those hay producers across the country who have reached out to ranchers here in Texas during this time of devastating drought, and we continue to encourage farmers to sign up on the Hay Hotline to assist our ranchers. These efforts, coupled with the recent Hay Hotline improvements, will connect more ranchers with hay producers across the nation who have muchneeded forage. Texas is the national leader in cattle production so it is critical that we preserve the herds on which all of America relies.”
In an effort to help drought-stricken Texas ranchers, Staples has taken the following actions:
Updated Hay Hotline tools; Sent a letter to all commissioners, secretaries and directors of agriculture in other states requesting assistance in locating hay donations for Texas ranchers; Sent request to states that have available grazing land or hay to list it on the Texas Hay Hotline; Encouraged commissioners, secretaries and directors of agriculture in other states to follow the Lone Star State’s lead in waiving transportation size restrictions for hay shipments. So far, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming have eased restrictions on transporting hay; Sent a request to U.S.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to allow grass baled on land enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program to be donated to struggling ranchers; Facilitated a hay drive from Indiana to Texas; Indiana producers donated hay and the Indiana Motor Truck Association transported it to ranchers in north Texas.
According to Texas AgriLife Extension, agriculture losses due to this year’s drought have already reached $5.2 billion and are now the costliest in state history for Texas farmers and ranchers. Last summer, State Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon declared the 2011 dry spell the “most severe one-year drought on record,” while the National Weather Service called it the second-worst drought in Texas history.
The Hay Hotline can be accessed by visiting www. TexasAgriculture.gov/hay hotline or by calling 877/ 429-1998. — WLJ