WEATHER

Drought, pandemic affect Utah farmers and hay exports

Jun 1, 2021, 5:00 AM | Updated: Jun 22, 2021, 9:06 am
Tom Bailey with hay for export Utah hay...
Tom Bailey shows off the Chinese label on one of the bales of Utah hay going to Asia. (Photo: KSL TV)
(Photo: KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah sends thousands of tons of hay every year to China and other countries in Asia and the Middle East. Droughts and dry weather are making that hay more expensive because ranchers have to buy more feed for cattle that would normally be grazing.

Tom Bailey operates three facilities in Utah that make compressed hay bales for the export market, and he says the price of alfalfa and grass hay has gone up from 10 to 20 percent this year because of that demand.

“They’ll have to go to the hay producers to sustain their needs, and that could put a little extra pressure on the hay market,” Bailey told KSL Newsradio.

Getting those hay bales onto ships to make the trip across the Pacific is another challenge as the pandemic caused disruptions in the availability of ships and containers.

“They have the contracts to deliver the product, but you can’t get the vessel space to deliver all of it, so we’ve had to drop production back some,” Bailey said.

Farmers could also face limits on irrigation water as the drought continues into the summer. About half of the water used for agriculture in Utah is used to irrigate hay.


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Drought, pandemic affect Utah farmers and hay exports