New Mexico farmers face hay shortage after devastating wildfire season

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – “Anybody who can have their livelihood depend on a little seed, the soil, and hope for rain and moisture, and do that their whole life, you know they’re tough people,” said New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte.

Witte is talking about farmers and ranchers across New Mexico, who are even now, months later, still dealing with the devastation of last year’s wildfire season.

Along with everything else, now they’re dealing with a hay shortage.

“If you think about in just the Mora County area, there’s probably according to the Ag census over 16,000, head of livestock in that area, we figure that the forage needs in the area amount to about $200,000 a week, and so if you just multiply that from April through now,” he said of the demand for hay in the burn scar area.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture created a webpage to connect producers with those who need of hay. 

Witte said they’re one of several groups to do so to make it easier on those effected by the fires. But even if we do get a good rainy season to help start recovering those lost grasslands, it’s going to take much longer to fully recover.

“In the areas of the heavy burn scars, we’re going to see impacts for several years. It takes several years to bring back some of the lands that have a heavy burn scar,” said Witte.

So far, he’s impressed by the state’s help, but also devastated for our state’s agriculture population that’s been hit so hard in so many ways.

“Personally, it’s heartbreaking. You know, I grew up in the north, in Northern New Mexico, and so I understand the custom, the culture and the people. It’s just, it’s just one of those things that you want to help you just can’t help enough. ” he said. 

If you need hay or want to share your product information, you can visit the New Mexico Department of Agriculture website.