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Hay & Forage
Hay & Forage

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Turning Green Grass into Greenbacks

Nate Jaeger
(800) 392-5705, ext. 4221

Alabama Hay and Forage Producers, a division of Alabama Farmers Federation, is composed of farmers across the state involved in the production of Hay and Forage Crops. Hay and forage corps are an important part of Alabama's agricultural economy, and there are a lot of producers interested in research being done to improve varieties and enhance marketing. The Hay and Forage Division works closely with Auburn University and others to take advantage of the work already being done and to target future research into areas which can directly benefit our farmers and ranchers.

Commercial hay production is big business in Alabama, and is likely to get even bigger. As hay machinery costs rise, ownership of hay equipment becomes more difficult to justify unless large quantities of hay are being produced. Yet, the average beef cattle herd in Alabama is less than 30 animals. This makes it increasingly more economical for livestock producers with small herds to purchase the hay they need, and for producers who have hay equipment to focus on meeting the increasing demand for hay.

In 2005, Alabama farmers utilized 730,000 acres for hay production. Alabama farmers averaged producing 2.7 tons of hay per acre - that's 1,971,000 tons of hay produced in Alabama in 2005. At a $57 per ton value, that's an economic impact of more than $112 million on the state's economy. The top 6 counties in hay production in Alabama are all in the northern third of the state: Cullman, Jackson, DeKalb, Morgan, Lauderdale and Marshall. However, hay and pasture forages are produced in all 67 counties in Alabama.

Goals and Issues

Goals of the Hay and Forage Division are determined by a state committee, which is elected by other producers throughout the state.

Issues and challenges facing producers are evaluated each year, and priority is placed on each to determine a focus for the division's efforts. Goals include:

  • Work with area organization directors and county boards to maintain and increase county committees to at least 50.
  • Work with Auburn University, power companies and other groups to secure funding for biomass and renewable energy research and development.
  • Promote hay and forage testing for deermining value of hay and forage crop for sale as well as feeding.
  • Promote use of straw and less desirable hay for erosion control on construction projects.
  • Increase affilate membership with American and Forage Grassland Council.

Helping farmers address everyday problems is a key part of our mission. As new challenges appear, Alabama Hay & Forage Producers is poised to address those for the good of its producer members.

Activities and programs planned for the year include:
  • Work with Auburn University and other universities to determine, develop and utilize hay and forage research.
  • Develop and implement county, area and state programs to aid producers in more efficient production and marketing.
  • Sponsor Hay & Grazing Schools and Grazing Conferences.
  • Plan and coordinate Commodity Producers Conference programs as well as other educational andinformational activities, including a biennial Hay and Forage Expo.
  • Utilize Cultivator and Neighbors magazine and other media to keep producers informed of issues and regulations affecting them.

Almost all of Alabama's livestock producers grow forage in some form. Therefore, there obviously is a large amount of acreage in the state devoted to the production of grasses and legumes whether these are to be used directly for animal consumption as pastureland or for hay.

Due to the vast amount of land devoted to forage production, there is huge potential for production of biomass for energy and mulch for construction that could greatly enhance the profitability for Alabama forage producers.

The Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Hay and Forage Producers are constantly and aggressively pursuing these production methods and marketing avenues for Alabama farmers. We are working closely with Auburn University and other entities to make this possibility a viable asset to the state's economy.

Alabama Hay and Forage Producers is fortunate to have Dr. Don Ball, Auburn University forage crops agronomist, as its technical advisor. Ball has been successful at educating Alabama forage growers for many years as well as initiating studies that have positively impacted the industry.

Furthermore, the Alabama Hay and Forage Producers are working with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System the American Forages and Grasslands Council and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to evaluate and enhance current forages and forage systems to help Alabama farmers become better and more productive forage producers.

Members of the 2013 Alabama Farmers Federation State Hay & Forage Committee are, from left, front row: Steve Stroud, Pike County; Phyllis Jones, Cherokee County; Second Vice Chairman Stanley Newton, Chambers County; First Vice Chairman Joe Potter, Colbert County and Chairman Wade Hill, Lawrence County; back row: Hay & Forage Division Director Nate Jaeger; Laslie Hall, Montgomery County; Johnny Lee, Henry County; Neal Kelly, Tallapoosa County; Mark Landers, Tuscaloosa County and Alvin Anderson, Jefferson County.

Alabama Farmers Federation at Work for Alabama Producers

As a part of Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Hay & Forage Producers is represented at the state and national levels through departments of Governmental Affairs and National Affairs. The Department of Public Relations provides communications about important issues and notices through its monthly magazine, Neighbors, and biweekly newsletter, Cultivator.

The Local Connection

County Farmers Federations, with the assistance of Area Organization Directors, provide support and a mechanism to address issues on the local level. Herein lies the strength of Alabama Farmers Federation. Each county may establish its own Hay & Forage Committee. Needs and requests from producers in the county are the beginning of policy development and the direction of Alabama Hay & Forage Producers. You may contact your county Hay & Forage Chairman, or if none currently exists, the Area Organization Director in your region or your County President for more information.

Why Should I be a Member of Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Hay & Forage Producers?

The Alabama Farmers Federation brings farmers of all commodities together for a common cause. Together, we can accomplish more for everyone's benefit. The more producers actively participating in Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Hay & Forage Producers, the more effective the organization can be on issues affecting them. With membership in the Alabama Farmers Federation, come many benefits.

Did You Know?

  • Most common forage grasses produced in Alabama are Pensacola Bahiagrass, Hybrid Bermudagrass, Tall Fescue and Dallisgrass.
  • Most forage legumes commonly grown for forage purposes in Alabama are cool season species that should be planted in the autumn. They include Crimson Clover, Ball Clover, Red Clover, White Clover, Arrowleaf Clover, Vetch.
  • A variety of small grains also are grown in Alabama for forage purposes. Those include Rye, Wheat, Oats and Triticale.
  • The most common cool season forage grown in Alabama is Annual Ryegrass.
  • A 1,200-pound cow will consume between 25 and 30 pounds of forage or hay everyday.
  • In Alabama, it takes an average of 2 - 2 1/2 acres of forage to maintain a cow and her calf.

Related Links

Natural Resources Conservation Service
ACES Crops and Forage WebpageAmerican Forage and Grasslands Council
Alabama Weekly Hay Report

For more information, contact Nate Jaeger, Director, Alabama Hay & Forage Producers, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191-0001. Phone: (800) 392-5705, ext. 4221.

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