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Hay Hotline available to assist drought-stricken ranchers
AUSTIN -- As ranchers try desperately to feed and save their herds in the wake of the worst one-year drought in Texas history, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced Nov. 3 the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline now lists 1,082 hay producers from 42 states selling forage.
According to a Nov. 3 Texas Department of Agriculture press release, the Hay Hotline was recently updated with several improvements and now includes hay prices, information on transportation services to deliver hay, and available grazing lands.
In an effort to help drought-stricken Texas ranchers, Staples has taken the following actions:
•Updated Hay Hotline tools;
•Sent a letter to all commissioners, secretaries, and directors of agriculture in other states requesting assistance in locating hay donations for Texas ranchers;
•Sent request to states that have available grazing land or hay to list it on the Texas Hay Hotline;
•Encouraged commissioners, secretaries, and directors of agriculture in other states to follow the Lone Star State’s lead in waiving transportation size restrictions for hay shipments. So far Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming have eased restrictions on transporting hay.
•Sent a request to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to allow grass baled on land enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program to be donated to struggling ranchers;
•Facilitated a hay drive from Indiana to Texas; Indiana producers donated hay and the Indiana Motor Truck Association transported it to ranchers in North Texas.
According to Texas AgriLife Extension, agriculture losses due to this year’s drought have already reached $5.2 billion and are now the costliest in state history for Texas farmers and ranchers. Last summer State Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon declared the 2011 dry spell the “most severe one-year drought on record,” while the National Weather Service called it the second-worst drought in Texas history.
The Hay Hotline can be accessed by visiting www.TexasAgriculture.gov/hayhotline or by calling 877- 429-1998.
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