Tennessee Valley farmers meet to discuss hay shortage due to drought

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - A large part of the Tennessee Valley has seen less than one inch of rain since September 1, and area farmers continue feeling the pinch of the ongoing drought.

Cattle farmers, in particular, are facing a difficult winter, says Josh Melson with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Melson is the Lawrence County extension coordinator. He says, "it's going to be some tough times ahead and we need to be proactive in the education process to our farmers."

Cattle rely heavily on hay for winter feed. The drought means a hay shortage. In addition, it prevented farmers from growing the grasses that are also part of a cow's diet.

So, not only will they be paying more for hay, they will likely need to feed their cattle more of it.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System held four meetings in North Alabama.

Helpful resources can be found at on the drought page of the ACES website.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is also keeping a list of available hay for sale.

Finally, cattle farmers should know there may be federal help available. The USDA Farmer Service Agency has a livestock forage program for counties that have experienced a Level 2 drought or higher.

Contact your local FSA office to learn more.

A list of Alabama county offices may be found here.