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Missouri farmers hurting for hay

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Farmers in Missouri may soon be in the midst of a devastating hay shortage.

A late frost in April along with a lack of rain is forcing farmers across the country to import hay from other states.

Missouri sent a request to the USDA earlier this week asking it to approve the use of conservation land for emergency haying and grazing.

"It's a mess up here," says Dan Wells. Wells runs a cattle operation in Mercer County in north central Missouri.

"People are feeding hay now because the pastures have burned up and they're having to feed their cattle now. A lot of producers are talking about they're going to have to sell their cattle herds down in order to be able to have enough feed to take care of them."

Factor into that fertilizer and shipping costs which have gone through the roof and farmers throughout the Midwest and South are predicting hay prices over three times what they were last year.

Garrett Hawkins is a spokesman for the Missouri Farm Bureau.

"Quite frankly, you know, our folks especially given the weather conditions we've had the last couple years .if they have a good hay crop this year they're not really willing to give it up."

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt has asked the USDA to allow farmers to harvest forage acres in the Conservation Reserve Program.

That window is shrinking by the day as grass dries up and looses its nutrient value.

The USDA has not yet responded to Missouri's request for emergency grazing approval.