Utah hay growers should have a great year in 1989, with prices of alfalfa hay expected to surpass $100 per ton, according to a report by the Utah Farm Bureau Federation.
Vic Saunders, vice president of communications for the UFB, said the drought last year coupled with farmers' reluctance to put their surplus hay on the market - "as if they are awaiting higher prices for their alfalfa" - has boosted the price of the feed to nearly double its price in some years.He said Utah farmers in general should have a good year in 1989.
"Agriculture experts, farmers, bankers and farm equipment dealers I've spoken with over the past few weeks are optimistic about commodity prices, the availability of farm supplies and equipment and the amount of credit that most Utah farmers will be able to take advantage of this year."
Saunders said farm economists expect continued high demands for wheat; a good demand for poultry; stronger prices for feed grains, including corn, barley and oats; as good a year as last year for cattlemen, especially those with cow-calf operations; and a good year for milk producers.
He said the prognosis for pork and lamb producers in 1989 is not so good, because production of hogs and sheep has been high and prices are expected to be lower over the next 12 months.
"There could be shortages of seed later in the year, primarily because of the drought, and farmers should order their supplies early," Saunders advised.
While the feed grain industry should do well, the high prices cattlemen will have to pay for grain to feed their cattle will cut into their profits.
"There will be fewer cattle produced in 1989, however, and, with continued strong consumer demands for beef, cattlemen should be looking at breaking even or making a small profit.
"Prospects for cow-calf operators are excellent. Because they pasture their cattle for much of the time and their feed grain purchases are minimal, 1989 should be as good a year as they've had in the past 10 to 15 years."
Saunders said milk producers will have the benefit this year of a 50-cent increase in the price of milk. In addition, a 50-cent cut in milk support prices that should have occurred at the beginning of this year was not put into effect because last year's drought reduced national supplies of milk.
The more milk surpluses there are, Saunders explained, the less the support price for milk.
He said the picture for Utah dairymen looks uncertain, however, because of the increased prices they will probably have to pay this year for feed.
Saunders' report was compiled from interviews with DeeVon Bailey, Utah State University Extension economist; Dave Petersen, assistant vice president for special loans at First Security Bank; Stan Ronna, farm services manager for Intermountain Farmers Association; Brent Dyer, of Bullens, Inc., a Logan farm implement dealer.