As 2011 winds down, there is the inevitable speculation as to how the alfalfa hay market will fare in the first quarter and/or the first half of the coming year. The consensus seems to be another good year for the hay market in 2012.

In November we asked a CAFA member at a large ranch in the San Joaquin Valley to give his thoughts on what he expected in the coming months. He came up with the following five points that bode well for next year’s hay market:   

1. Class III milk is currently trading around $16.50 for May 2012. Historically, that is relatively high, but it’s a break-even point for many dairies. That milk price can’t support a hay price much higher than $270 or $280.

2. Corn and other substitution products are projected to stay high through the first part of next year.

3. There’s not a huge increase projected for alfalfa acres. I spoke with Seth Hoyt (hay market analyst) earlier and he is expecting a 3 percent to 5 percent increase overall in California.

4. The number of dairy cattle is increasing slightly, but the key is that it’s not dropping significantly.

5. Hay rations have already been reduced with most dairies feeding 5-8 pounds of hay per day per cow.

Based on the items above, he expects that the price of supreme hay will be $270 to $280 for the first cutting of next year. 

Learn hay market analysis    

Anyone who has an interest in the alfalfa hay market knows the name, Seth Hoyt. His more than 30 years of experience as a hay market analyst makes him an ideal person to work with and learn the ins-and-outs of the business. If you are knowledgeable about the hay industry and marketing in the West, Hoyt would like to hear from you. He has an opening for a part-time employee for the Weekly Hoyt Report that provides up-to-date information on market trends and forecasts based on in-depth research.

Hoyt says he's looking for someone who is "able to interact well, trade information with people in the hay industry, keep information confidential, and meet work deadlines."  Although it's a part-time job now, he says it could work into a full time job in the future. If you're interested in learning more about the job, you can call Seth at 209-274-9945.

CAFA needs your support

Most CAFA members have received a renewal notice for 2012. As a grassroots organization we’ve shown that a grower-led board of directors can accomplish a great deal on a low budget. CAFA only has one part-time employee, yet the all-volunteer board of directors have accomplished a great deal in the relatively short time since the association was founded.

Nearly all revenue that our organization receives comes from annual dues. CAFA is the only organization that’s dedicated to advocating on behalf of the alfalfa and forage industry and your annual dues are important. We appreciate your support in 2011 and we’ll continue to work on your behalf in 2012.