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Drought, High Demand Makes Hay Hard to Find (Aug 29, 2011)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Ranchers already struggling in a scorching drought in the southern Plains are finding hay expensive and difficult to find.

The soaring prices benefit hay farmers in states such as Nebraska and Iowa, but they're tough on ranchers in drought-stricken areas in Texas and Oklahoma.

Those ranchers must choose between unpleasant options like trucking in pricey hay, selling off cattle or moving their cattle to rented pastures elsewhere.

Texas rancher Don Davis says the drought has been brutal. He had to pay $240 a ton to have hay delivered from Nebraska.

USDA statistics show the average price of hay climbed to $170 per ton this summer from last July's $112 per ton average. The final cost is much higher because farmers have to pay transportation costs.

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