Susan White of SR Farms works with the last batch of hay bale she uses to feed her rescued horses. (Photo: WBOC)
SALISBURY, Md.- Some farmers on the Eastern Shore are having trouble producing enough hay and are blaming this summer's drought.
They said the shortage is having an impact on the region's horse farm industry because many farmers use orchard grass and alfalfa to feed them.
Susan White, who owns SR Farms in Hebron, said she has 60 hay bales left to last her horses through the winter or at least she hopes.
"Buying local hay was usually pretty reasonable prices," said White, who rescues horses. "You could get it from the fields when they (growers) cut and you can buy it for like $2.50, $3, $3.50 a bale."
But buying locally may no longer be a choice for White. Zeke Collins of Collins Farms in Salisbury said the extreme drought is putting him out of the business of growing this kind of horse feed.
"This root system is not putting out the growth like it should," said Collins as he showed WBOC dried grass on his land. "The growth is not there like it should be."
Just down the street from Collins, farmer Geno Lowe had the same story to tell.
"The alfalfa and grass hay here is definitely in short supply," he said. "We certainly don't have much in reserve right now to sell to people who have horses and we normally would have quite a bit still."
That means at some point both farmers may have to get hay from other sources.
"We have to bring it in from the Western Shore or Pennsylvania and sometimes they even keep our customers in hay for the year," Collins said. "If the price goes up, which I'm sure it's going to go up, when we have to start bringing it in, so we will have to raise the price up some and that's going to affect everybody's pocket."
White said just like the local farmers she too has no choice but to fend for her horses elsewhere.
"We can't even count on going to Pennsylvania to buy it because they will be out and now I am going all the way to Upstate New York to buy my hay, which I have never in 13 years had to do," she said.
White said her biggest worry is not having enough food to feed her rescued horses by the time winter comes around.
Monday, May 20 2013 9:13 AM EDT2013-05-20 13:13:36 GMT
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