The hay price tallies of 2016 aren’t good, but the average hay prices received for 2016 as recently reported by the USDA National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) isn’t unexpected, either.
If you were selling alfalfa last year, markets in New Jersey, Kentucky, New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia or Delaware would have likely garnered the best price. Each of these states averaged greater than $200 per ton for alfalfa sales in 2016 (Table 1).
If, however, you were selling “other hay,” Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire or New York were the top markets on average (Table 2).
Around the country there was concern in both markets throughout 2016, as feeder hay supplies were too plentiful and dairies trying to produce milk below cost of production weren’t pushing the quality hay prices domestically. Over the entire U.S., alfalfa average prices were down 12.7 percent over 2015 prices and down 29.6 percent over 2014 prices. Maine (-26.9 percent) and Idaho (-23.5 percent) were hardest hit. Other hay prices were down 3.3 percent over 2015 prices and down 10 percent over 2014 prices across the U.S., with Nevada (-32.3 percent) and Minnesota (-21.6 percent) suffering the greatest decreases.
There were some bright spots in the report. Ten states saw price improvement over prices received a year ago in alfalfa hay, while 17 states saw average increases in other hay prices.