The Missouri Dairy Association is seeking feed assistance for drought stricken dairy farms in the state.
"We've been hit harder in southwest Missouri than some people can ever remember," says Larry Purdom, MDA president and a dairy farmer from Purdy. "Our crops and pastures are burned up. We are operating on real short feed and we are concerned about it now being September with no rainfall. No rain now impacts our growing small grain for pasture and hay for next spring. The feed situation is as bad as I've seen it in my 50 years of dairy farming."
Purdom explains that dairies in this part of the state have had dry years before, but have usually been able to buy feed from out of state. But this year is different. "Most of the out of state hay we would normally buy has been shipped to other states like Texas because of their severe drought, or those hay acres were never planted," he notes.
National hay acreage is down because some of those acres were planted in the spring to corn because of profitable corn prices," Purdom adds. "Our corn didn't even grow and produce an ear because of the severe heat and no rain. Harvesting what's left now for silage in southwest Missouri is all we can do to salvage something.
Several MDA directors have visited with Missouri's congressional delegation in recent weeks about the need for feed assistance.
"Without out some support, I don't know how many Missouri dairy farmers can get through the winter with the feed they have on hand," Purdom says. "We can't keep paying double for feed compared to past years."
In addition, rising diesel fuel prices are adding to transportation costs for the dairies to bring in out of state feed. "When you are bringing hay in -- if you can find it -- from northern states like Minnesota that really adds up at $3.50 per mile plus the trucks need a back haul of something to make it economical," he says.
Purdom is planning a trip to Washington, D.C., next week to press the need for help for Missouri dairy farmers.
Source: Missouri Dairy Association