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Farmers, ranchers, and horse rescues hit with rising hay prices

KOLD News 10-10:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 5:26 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Happening now – farmers, ranchers, and horse rescues in Arizona and across the nation are being hit with a major price hike when it comes to a vital resource – hay.

The price has been going up over the past year, forcing many to consider other options.

“We’re trying to buy as much as we can right now so that we don’t get impacted by continuing high prices,” co-founder of Karuna Horse Rescue, Paul Kratzer says.

The rescue is currently home to more than 20 horses. After lots of searching, they were able to purchase roughly 190 bales of hay, but that amount will only last them a couple of months.

Kratzer says, “I heard the price just went up this week to $21 a bale.”

He says at this time last year a bale was about $17.

Russell Tronstad, University of Arizona agriculture specialist says, ″If you kind of look at price changes in the last year, we’re up right around 20%, maybe upwards of 30% depending on the different quality.”

It’s a hefty increase and it’s related to a number of things.

He says, ″I think part of the increase in the hay prices is driven a lot by water availability across the west.”

The pandemic, inflation, supply chain, and even monsoon are hitting this industry hard. Tronstad says last summer’s active monsoon hindered some of the hay quality, especially for horses.

″I think the outlook for hay is that it won’t become more available in the near future,” he said.

It’s a major problem for horse owners. Hay helps keep the horses healthy and happy.

Kratzer says, “The only other option is to feed them pellets and that can be cumbersome and difficult.”

The rescue has seen an increase in people looking to rehome their horse because of the hay price spike, but they aren’t able to take any new additions at this time so they’ve been referring people to other rescues.

Tronstad said the spike in hay prices will likely only have a minor effect on the price of meat in stores because most livestock don’t subsist on hay.

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