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As Drought Continues Central Texas Farmers Worry About Hay Theft
Triple S Feed is tucked away off FM 1625 in Hays County. Out in front, by the road, there is a cardboard sign that reads: “For Sale $70.” On that sign, in black marker, there is a sad face that shows more than words can explain.
Corine Swenson, part-owner of Triple S Feed, said in two years they haven’t been able to bail hay on the patch of land behind the store. "This is one of our coastal patches that we normally bail when we get good rain fall, and as you can see now it's nothing but weeds,” Swenson said.
Hay companies everywhere are suffering because of the drought in Texas. Swenson said she has spent 24 years in the hay business, and the last two years have been some of the hardest for her family business.
The shortage of hay is causing prices to go up. Swenson says a large round bale of hay at her store has jumped $40 in two years.
"Whoever had any hay at the beginning of the year it ran out, and we’re all having to buy hay from other parts of the country,” Swenson said. “We bought hay as far as the Carolina's."
The rippling effect has increased the value of the crop, and farmers around the country are now worried about thieves stealing from their land. Swenson said at her store they keep a watchful eye around the clock.
“If you bail hay one day and don't go and pick it up until the next day, you go out there and there might be half a field missing," Swenson said.
Farmers and ranchers are also cutting back on livestock. Richard Vallejo, Owner of Vallejo Hay Sales said he is fortunate to have enough hay to feed his family’s animals and has not had to sell any of them yet, unlike other famers.
“They are going to have to sell out,” Vellejo said, "Their farms that they've had for years, cattle that they've had for years, for generations, now they're going to move on because it is getting too expensive"
By Cassie Gallo