Steve Troxler, North Carolina's Commissioner of Agriculture, announced a new program today to assist horse owners and other livestock owners who are facing shortages of local hay and high prices for out-of-state hay.
On December 4, the Council of State voted unanimously to authorize the state to use up to $3.5 million to purchase and transport hay to North Carolina.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services set up the Ag and Equine Partners hay relief programs to reimburse livestock owners up to $500 for a load of hay moved from out of state. Livestock owners may seek cost-share funds for up to three loads. The higher limits are possible because the Council of State recently approved $250,000 in emergency funds for the cost-share programs. Reimbursements will be made on a first-come, first-served basis as long as funding is available.
Troxler also announced that the first shipment of hay bought by the state for resale to livestock farmers will be delivered to six sites across North Carolina in early January. As livestock owners buy up the hay, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will purchase additional loads, Troxler said.
"Cows and horses in North Carolina are eating between 15 and 40 pounds of hay each day, and we've got a fair number of sheep and goats who also need feed," Troxler said. "The hay we're bringing in will provide an emergency stockpile that farmers can tap if they find themselves in desperate need."
The department has placed an initial order for 36 truckloads of hay, which will be distributed evenly among six locations. Delivery dates for each site are still being finalized.
Livestock owners should contact the department's toll-free Hay Alert hotline at 1-866-506-6222 or visit www.ncagr.com/HayAlert for information. Businesses and organizations interested in contributing to Ag Partners or Equine Partners may contact Chrissy Lucas at (919) 733-7125 or email@example.com.