Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennesseans who eat beef could be hit in the pocketbook by a shortage of hay, University of Tennessee agricultural economist Emmit Rawls said Monday.

It’s been 34 years since the hay supply on Tennessee farms has been as low as it is this year, UT forage specialist Gary Bates said.

Farmers cut hay in the spring and summer to feed to cattle in the winter when pastures cannot grow, Bates said. The harsh winter and cool weather into April reduced the crop, he said.

A second crop of hay will help, Rawls said.

“Worst case scenario — some poor quality hay in this early crop and, should it turn dry and we not get a good second crop, it could encourage some farmers to reduce the size of their herds rather than buy high-priced hay in the fall,” Rawls said.

“It’s a bit speculative to say we’ll have high-priced hay this fall,” but it could happen, he said.

High-priced hay would result in higher beef prices at the grocery, Rawls said.

Contact: Gary Bates (423-974-7208)

Emmit Rawls (423-974-7271)