Emergency hay program slowing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staff report
The state’s emergency hay program will begin slowing next week and will stop on April 1.
Starting Monday, the state’s six hay distribution sites, including Piedmont Research Station on Sherrills Ford Road, will scale back sales to two days a week ó Tuesdays and Thursdays ó from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In December, the N.C. Department of Agriculture launched the hay program to provide help for livestock owners short on hay due to the drought.
“Our goal has been to help livestock owners make it through the winter, and we have been able to meet their needs,” state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a press release. “By extending sales until April 1, we are confident that they will not be left without a safety net.”
Through mid-February, the program brought in more than 1,750 tons of hay from several other states and Canada.
As of Tuesday, Piedmont Research Station had received 31 tractor-trailer loads, or an estimated 700 tons of hay.
“It’s winding down,” said Joe Hampton, superintendent of the station. “A lot of folks picked up hay and now have enough to get them to the end (of feeding season). The demand for hay has slowed.”
Hampton said Piedmont will have one load of horse hay and one load of cow hay on site through April 1, when the program will shut down statewide.
If the weather should turn nasty and additional hay is needed, Hampton said, the state will bring in more.
The cost of hay continues to rise, in part due to the increasing cost of diesel fuel. And Hampton said hay is getting harder to find. Much of the hay delivered here has come from Arkansas, New York, Florida and Canada.
Hampton is optimistic that pastures are starting to wake up and grow with the showers and some warm days.
For information on the hay program, contact Piedmont Research Station at 704-278-2624, or call the N.C. Department of Agriculture at 1-866-506-6222. Additional information is also available on the Web at www.ncagr.com/hayalert.