USDA reports this week showed relatively good pasture conditions across the nation and a slight decrease in hay stocks.
USDA-NASS also initiated its weekly US pasture and range conditions ratings as of May 8. The agency reported that range and pasture conditions were similar to those in early May one year earlier. The ratings are either excellent, good, fair, poor or very poor.
Nationally, 63% of range and pastures were in the good to excellent condition, up from 58% a year ago. Only 9% of the pastures were rated poor or very poor, versus 10% a year ago. Compared to the prior 5-year average (2011-2015), US early season conditions are much improved.
In its May Crop Production report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), USDA released year-over-year hay stocks as of May 1, 2017. The report, based on a survey of producers, gives a carryover number as of that date. Besides national totals, stocks by state are reported.
On May 1US hay stocks were 24.4 million tons, which was down 750,000 tons or 3%, year-over-year.
The Livestock Marketing Information Center noted even though stocks were the smallest since 2014, when the total was 19.1 million tons, this year's supplies remained plentiful. NASS does a producer survey on hay stocks twice each year, one on Dec. 1 and one for May 1. US winter hay usage, listed as disappearance from Dec. 1, 2016 until May 1 of this year, was less than expected, although in several regions early winter feeding requirements were above levels of recent years, and lower hay prices encouraged use. Further, year-over-year cowherd increases supported hay consumption. Overall hay disappearance this past winter was the largest since the time period from Dec. 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-over-year.
The national average price for all hay in 2016-2017 was the lowest since the 2010-2011 crop-year. LMIC projects that based on current stock levels and very preliminary projections regarding 2017 production, hay prices may increase modestly year-over-year in 2017-2018, but not enough to be a factor influencing most producer management or marketing decisions.