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Extension Education: Let's Make a Deal: Hay Marketing Resources

Winter made its reappearance this year, but we can (finally) feel the warmth of spring in the air.  If you were cutting it close on feed and did not expect to feed for an extended period, you may be in the market for more hay to tide you over to fresh pasture. Conversely, you may have a stockpile that you wouldn’t mind selling to make room for this year’s crop. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place where buyers and sellers could come together? Well, there is such a place! In fact, there are many websites and other outlets that provide this valuable service in multiple states across the West.  

Table one breaks down some of the online resources that are available.

If you plan to buy or sell hay via any of these outlets, there are several things of which you should consider or be aware. 

First, hay is more marketable if you have a forage analysis. Along with that, as a buyer, you feel more comfortable about hay quality if you have the analysis results.  Ask about the age of hay and how it was stored. If the hay was high quality when it was harvested but is now three years old and wasn’t covered, the results aren’t very valuable.

Next, be aware of scams. When buying and selling hay on the internet, even in Wyoming, one must be aware of scams.  Do your research.  Scammers typically operate by email, though not all do. Their emails tend to have these characteristics.  They would like to pay by cashier’s check or money order only.  They insist on paying you more than you are asking.  They ask you to send cash to a third party, such as the hay shipper.  Additional warning signs may include  lack of knowledge of the hay itself, refusing to speak by phone or an unusual email address.  

If you think that you may have encountered a scam call your local police department to report the situation.  Never wire funds through a money wiring service.  Never give out your financial information such as your bank account number, social security number, etc.  Before listing or buying from an internet site read all you can about the site and check out its FAQ page.  Make sure you know what you are getting into before it is too late.  

Also, be sure to calculate shipping costs or brokerage costs.  Agreeing on a price with a seller can be a great thing. However, if you forget to take into consideration shipping or other costs, the check you fork over may be bigger than you anticipated.  

Still uneasy about using the internet to buy and or sell hay? Remember that using local resources such as your newspaper classifieds and radio “buy and trade” programs are just as good as any of the internet sites above though your marketing area will be smaller.  Check out your local paper or radio program, and you may just be surprised what they can do for you.  Just don’t forget to check the quality of the product and seller or buyer before any agreement is reached.  

Let’s cross our fingers for a bumper crop of hay this year and know that there are resources to help buyers and sellers come together and make a satisfactory deal.