KEITH: Hay production is the number one agronomic crop produced in the state. In dollars generated, it is second only to the beef industry and a lot of the hay our growers produce goes directly into that part of our economy, so it really plays a leading role in the top two ag industries in Wyoming.
Q: When did you start promoting Wyoming hay producers at World Dairy Expo?
KEITH: Wyoming itself has had individuals coming to World Dairy Expo since the early 1990s attending the World Forage Bowl. The Wyoming Business Council started working with the show in 2003 and have been here ever since. Because we are the marketing arm of everything agricultural coming out of the state, we felt this was a likely place to promote the dairy-quality hay produced by our growers.
Q: What is the biggest accomplishment the Wyoming Business Council has made for forage growers by promoting through dairy industry events?
KEITH: The recognition our producers have received by entering and winning the competitions at World Dairy Expo has given our producers a chance to show dairymen the real quality we can produce out West.
The result has been a change in our market structure as hay is now traveling further south and east than it was just a few years ago. Much of that movement has been because of contacts either we or the producers we are able to bring have made with dairymen and other hay buyers here at this show.
Q: What results do you hope come from continuing to promote Wyoming hay in the East?
KEITH: Our biggest goal is to provide our growers with a way to both promote and meet with others outside of our localized beef market. By continuing to bring our growers to this area, we give them the opportunity to show, first-hand, what Wyoming has to offer and the consistency we have in high-quality hay in our area.
The results we continue to have at the World Forage Superbowl continue to give us the consistent message of quality and reliability our crops continue to have year after year. I can’t give you an exact dollar amount we gain from attending and promoting Wyoming hay at World Dairy Expo, but I do know we have gained far more than we could have trying to promote our producers in other ways.
Q: How has hay production in Wyoming been different in 2009 versus other growing years?
KEITH: This year has been more challenging for quality hay production than it has been for the last several years. We received more rain this growing season than anyone can remember and many of our growers have struggled to put up the quality they are accustomed to.
We will definitely have no shortage of lower-quality beef hay this year. It is the dairy-quality we are not having the volume we are used to. There are growers with quality, but it might be a little tougher to find it in the amounts most people are familiar with seeing this time of year.
Q: What marketing strategies are you suggesting for your growers to compensate for the challenges this year?
KEITH: We are suggesting that growers continue to work with their buyers and look for opportunities to create selling situations where they can. With the dairy market still not fully recovered from the terrible summer prices, we feel they will be looking for individuals who can work with them on both quality and delivery.
We have seen more hay buyers taking their hay on an as-needed basis rather than heavily stocking up early, so there looks to be added opportunities for later-season sales than there have been in the past few years. It is going to be a different market for our growers.
There was a lot of hay produced, but it just didn’t hit the quality we might have seen in the past. It has been a quantity, not so much a quality year for us, but we will continue to provide all the feed we can for those who are looking for it. FG