Fight for fair hay prices

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - DROUGHT - 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,” New South Wales 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 isn’t good.”

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

“They are pay­ing $400 a

❝ It’s not like we’re say­ing ‘don’t help the farm­ers in the drought’, but some­times you have to play fair. — Janie Stace

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 to freight prices.

“We get our hay from a guy in Western Aus­tralia and we 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 it’s capped.”

Need for Feed chair­man Gra­ham Cock­erell said he didn’t be­lieve the 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,” he said.

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

“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 their 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.

“We’ve had hay that we’ve missed out be­cause some­one has paid a higher price.”

Farmer Janie Stace has her own or­gan­i­sa­tion, Crazy for Ewe, where she is work­ing with the Lions Club to pro­vide hay to farm­ers. She said she could see the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of char­i­ties buy­ing hay.

“Char­i­ties are buy­ing left­over sup­ply from last year. Any­thing that’s avail­able is be­ing bought,” she said. “There is not enough hay or its 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.”

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED/FILE

Janie Stace (in­set) urges drought char­ity groups to play fair when it comes to buy­ing hay.

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