Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wet weather has put some farmers way behind schedule. Corn and soybeans have been a struggle this year, so has alfalfa.
That could ultimately mean you’ll pay more at the grocery store for milk and other dairy products.
“We farm 900 acres of land and we are milking 230 cows right now,” said Dave Scapanski.
It’s a 24-7 operation for Scapanski and his sons near Sauk Rapids. To save a little money they grow their own grass hay to feed their dairy cows.
And with some hay left over, they decided to sell it to other farmers.
“We were getting $80 to $100 a bail, and I’ve never seen that before,” Scapanski said.
Normally, they’re lucky to get $25 a bail for grass hay. Alfalfa hay is even more prosperous.
At a hay auction in Sauk Centre this spring, one ton of alfalfa hay sold for $375. That’s twice as much as five years ago.
Drought conditions, especially in southern Minnesota, have hit the alfalfa crop hard.
In December the harvest was only 64 percent of what it was in 2011, driving up demand and driving up prices.
“It is a good market for hay if you are selling hay. And it’s a tough market if you need to be buying a lot of hay for livestock,” said Dan Martens of the U of M Extension.
Martens said as dairy farmers pay more to feed their cows, eventually we could pay more to buy what they’re selling.
“As the farmers cost of producing milk goes up, then the price of milk has to come up,” Martens said.
It’s not clear yet how high milk prices will go or when that will happen.
Normally, farmers like to cut their alfalfa about four times a year.
Last year, in southern Minnesota, a lot of farmers only got about two cuts in due to the drought.
And this spring a lot of fields have been wet making it hard to cut it at all.