Fight for fair hay prices

The Western Star - - RURALWEEKLY - CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER Cas­san­dra.glover@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

FARM­ERS are call­ing for drought char­i­ties to pay fair prices when buy­ing up al­ready rare sources of hay.

“The char­i­ties have in­ter­fered with the pur­chas­ing of hay,” NSW sheep and cat­tle farmer Karen Weller said.

“For farm­ers that are ac­tu­ally pur­chas­ing hay, it has caused them a whole heap of prob­lems.

“They have good in­ten­tions but the ram­i­fi­ca­tions for farm­ers that are try­ing to be self-suf­fi­cient aren’t good.”

Mrs Weller al­leged cer­tain char­i­ties were pay­ing ex­or­bi­tant prices for hay, which was driv­ing the prices up for farm­ers.

“They are pay­ing $400 a bale which is dou­ble,” she said.

“It’s usu­ally $400 a tonne and if you want it, you have to pay that.

“Char­i­ties are tak­ing prece­dence and they’re caus­ing a lot of prob­lems for farm­ers try­ing to buy hay.”

Mrs Weller said the same thing was hap­pen­ing for freight prices.

“We get our hay from a guy in Western Aus­tralia and he will pay $250 trans­port per tonne but char­i­ties are pay­ing $450 or more for freight,” she said.

“They don’t have the ex­per­tise to know what the hay is worth or what the freight is worth.

“Char­i­ties get 100 per cent re­bates on their freight costs; for farm­ers its capped.”

Need for Feed chair­man Gra­ham Cock­erell said he did not be­lieve his or­gan­i­sa­tion would be hav­ing any ef­fect on hay prices.

“We’re dis­tribut­ing do­nated hay or we’re pay­ing mar­ket prices or less for hay we buy. Peo­ple re­duce the prices be­cause of what we’re do­ing,” Mr Cock­erell said.

“We’re pay­ing about $200 per tonne for last and $300 per tonne for this sea­son’s (hay).

“We have seen hay ad­ver­tised for way more than that, but we’re not in­ter­ested in pay­ing that much.”

Mr Cock­erell said more than half of the group’s hay was do­nated.

“We’re still cart­ing a lot of do­nated fod­der, so that was never go­ing to be in the mar­ket and hasn’t con­trib­uted to prices at all,” he said.

“What some of us have agreed on is that it’s un­scrupu­lous hay sup­pli­ers that are driv­ing prices up.

Farmer Janie Stace‘s or­gan­i­sa­tion, Crazy for Ewe, works with a Lions Club to pro­vide hay to farm­ers.

Ms Stace said she saw the same ram­i­fi­ca­tions of char­i­ties buy­ing hay.

“Char­i­ties are buy­ing left­over sup­ply from last year. Any­thing that’s avail­able is be­ing bought,” Ms Stace said.

“There is not enough hay or it’s poor qual­ity so the prices have just gone up.

“This time last year you could get a round bale of good qual­ity for $60-70; now for aver­age qual­ity it’s $150 up­wards.”

We’re dis­tribut­ing do­nated hay or we’re pay­ing mar­ket prices or less for hay we buy, peo­ple re­duce the prices be­cause of what we’re do­ing. — Gra­ham Cock­erell

PHO­TOS: TARA MIKO / CON­TRIB­UTED

IN­SET: Janie Stace urges drought charity groups to play fair when it comes to buy­ing hay.

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