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