Increased hay prices impacting everyone, from ranchers to the grocery store

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 9:58 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2023 at 10:17 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Persistent drought and rising costs for farmers have taken a toll on everyone, making it more costly to feed livestock and raising everyone’s grocery bill.

Quinton Whitfield, the owner of High Winds Hay and Transport, says he’s never seen prices like these before.

“I’ve been selling hay in West Texas for six, seven years now, and this is the highest I’ve ever sold a bale of hay for,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield says a year ago, you could get horse-quality round bales of hay for $100 to $125 at his store. Now, it will cost you close to $200. It’s the same story for the hay ranchers feed to cows - that’s up $35.

Whitfield says he understands the toll this can take on producers because he’s also paying the price for his livestock.

“I feed this hay just like you’d come into the store and buy it and you feed it,” Whitfield said. “So, I know that the prices aren’t very economical, but it’s not economical on the people growing it, either.”

Whitfield grows some of the hay he sells. He says farmers have had a tough year with little to no rain, and the price of fertilizer and diesel being up.

“Our inputs are quite a bit more than they used to be,” Whitfield said.

At Lonesome Pine Equestrian Center, a Lubbock boarding stable, the manager, Stephanie Hallgren, says she gets a good deal directly from a hay farmer, but Lonesome Pine is also about to pay more for hay.

“We are already on notice for guaranteed hay price increases as we move forward, and by the middle of this year our prices will be tripled and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down from that point,” Hallgren said.

For the first time since its barn doors were slid open in the ‘90s, $20 more is being added on to boarders monthly charge.

“This year is the first year we’ve had to do a minimum surcharge per month for our boarders,” Hallgren said. “They’re very understanding, they’re really great and we’re very appreciative of them, but it’s hard for everybody all the way around.”

Not only is the price being passed on to horse owners, customers can see the difference at the grocery store.

“It all comes back to farming and ag, really - because everything that we have to put into the animals goes to the grocery store,” Whitfield said. “So, price of feed being up - it just factors on down the line.”

Whitfield says he also delivers the hay and for the first time he’s had to add a $25 delivery fee for Lubbock County because of diesel prices.