Hay-flation hitting local farmers, ranchers hard

(Nicki Clark/KFVS)
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 8:06 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Inflation has caused many goods, from gas to food, to skyrocket over the past year.

This is especially true for those in the agriculture community in southern Arizona.

Trish Nelson, owner and operator of Nelson Farms near Vail, has been raising horses for more than two decades.

A Tucsonan herself, Nelson couldn’t imagine running her farm anywhere else.

However, recent prices on feed such as hay and grain have increased significantly. That is causing her and many other farmers to worry about their future.

“We have had huge increases just over the last year,” Nelson said. “Some of it due to diesel some of it I’m not sure where it’s coming from. It’s been huge increases. It’s been almost triple what we usually spend.”

Nelson said these higher hay prices do not just impact farmers but the consumer as well.

She said that since farmers are having to pay more for feed, the prices they charge for their goods and services will have to increase.

“A bale five years ago would be $12 dollars or less,” she said. “Now it’s almost $30. That’s how much it impacts everything. We have to raise our prices because of the hay prices.”

According to Nelson, right now local farmers are meeting and discussing how they should move forward.

She said many are considering getting hay out-of-state for lower prices.

However, with close to 60 horses to feed, Nelson said inflation could force her to sell horses to keep costs down and stay in business.

“Are we going to survive? I mean that’s a lot of it,” Nelson said. “I would feel so sorry for a young trainer trying to make a living these days if they didn’t have a client base because it’s just impossible to make it at this point.”

Nelson believes there is more to the price gouging going on.

This is why she is calling on lawmakers to investigate the problem and come up with a solution since this is an issue impacting many in southern Arizona.

“I don’t blame the farmer as much as it is a middleman issue, is it a broker? I do not know,” Nelson said. “All I know is we are at the end, and we are just getting punished, it’s really hard to be in this business”

Nelson said despite the skyrocketing prices, she and other farmers will continue to pay because it is an important source of nutrition for the horses.