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Southern Oregon is experiencing a hay shortage

Hundreds of people waited more than three hours to pick up hay over the weekend.

Posted: Oct 21, 2019 6:11 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Southern Oregon is seeing a shortage in hay. People are spending hours waiting in lines to pick up hay.

Management at the Grange Co-Op told NewsWatch12 they're not having any trouble getting hay. In fact, they said when they place an order for it they get it within the next two days. Other people aren't as lucky. 

Diane Peterson has been coming to the Boise Cascade buildings to pick up hay for the last three years. This is the selected pickup point because it's the only area large enough to accomodate how many buyers come for hay. NewsWatch12 caught up with some of the buyers and they said this hay at Boise Cascade comes from Klamath County. It has an essential mineral, selenium, for livestock that helps with normal growth, health and fertility.  This hay is tough to come by because most soil in Southern Oregon is selenium deficient and won't have the needed nutrients.

Peterson said she's never seen the lines this long until recently. "The last few times it's been this way, major lineups," Peterson said.  "And I don't get out of here until 7 p.m. I don't know how long the rest of these people stay here."

Peterson has nine horses to feed, so this time, she waited three hours for hay. She said now is the time to stock up, especially since we're approaching winter because the animals need more feed in the winter to stay warm.

"If you've got nine horses like me, I don't have the room to store it," she said. "If I had the room to store it, I'd be getting a lot more hay than I am right now. I'd think about stocking up."

Jeff Schulz is the president of Heavenly Animal Rescue Team & Services (HARTS). He spoke with NewsWatch12 about the shortage, "Right now, you can still find it, but as the winter goes on and we roll into the spring it's going to get harder and harder to find."

The shortage hasn't hit him yet, but he has rescues to take care of so he's making sure he's prepared.

"Being that there are so many hay fields that have been converted to hemp, at some point there is going to be a shortage and I know I've heard Klamath is already starting to be a little scarce."

Peterson and more than a hundred other people waited for three hours Sunday night to get hay that was delivered from Klamath.

"I know from when I lived there, there's quite a bit of hay, but they started trucking it out," she said. "So if they've been trucking it out the way he's been I don't know if they're going to have enough over there to bring over."

Schulz said thousands of acres of land used to grow hay is now being used to grow hemp, which might partially be because landowners have to rotate crops to keep soil healthy. 

Without the normal amount of hay being grown in Southern Oregon, you might find yourself spending more on hay and waiting in line longer to make sure you can feed your livestock.

"I've never seen it like this," Peterson said. 

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