USDA released the monthly Crop Production report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) on May 10. The crop report covered commodities mostly unrelated to the livestock sectors, but did contain the May 1, 2017 hay stocks. The report is based on a NASS survey of producers. U.S. hay stocks for May 1st give a carryover number as of that date which marks the national transition to a new hay crop-year. Besides national totals, stocks by state are reported. The major users of hay are the U.S. beef cowherd, feedlots, and dairies.
Nationally, as of May 1, 2017, U.S. hay stocks were 24.4 million tons. Stocks were down 750,000 tons (3%) year-over-year. Even though stocks were the smallest since May 1, 2014 (19.1 million tons), they remained plentiful. NASS does a producer survey on their hay stocks twice each year, as of December 1 and May 1. U.S. winter hay usage (disappearance from December 1, 2016 until May 1 of this year) was less than expected earlier this year.
Still, in several regions, early winter feeding requirements were above levels of recent years and lower hay prices encouraged use. Of course, yearover-year cowherd increases supported hay consumption, too. Overall hay disappearance this past winter was the largest since the time period from December 1, 2009 to May 1, 2010 and the year-over-year increase was 2.3%, while the number of roughage consuming animal units increased 2.0% year-overyear.
Of the 48 reported states (all except Alaska and Hawaii) 22 had declines in hay stocks compared to a year ago. Several Northern Plains and Western states reported lower hay stocks compared to a year ago. In contrast, Texas, Oklahoma and most Midwest states had increased hay stocks to start the new crop-year.
The national average price for all hay in 2016/17 was the lowest since the 2010/11 crop-year. Based on current stock levels and very preliminary projections regarding 2017 production, hay prices may increase modestly year-over-year in 2017/18, but not enough to be a factor influencing most producer management or marketing decisions.