Drought-stricken North Carolina will help finance the costs of getting hay hauled to its livestock producers, announced Steve Troxler, state ag commissioner. Two programs are in the works: the Golden Hay Relief Program, designed to finance some of the costs to move hay and alternative forages within the state, and the Ag Partners Hay Relief Program, which will help pay to bring in out-of-state hay.

"The drought has caused an estimated $80 million in losses of hay, pasture and forage in our state," Troxler says. "We are working feverishly to cope with this hay emergency and prevent a mass exodus of livestock farmers."

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, using a $500,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation, will help truck hay and alternative feeds such as cornstalks and soybean hay, bought within the state. Livestock producers must submit applications to the department, which will divide the $500,000 by the amount requested by farmers in approved applications. Farmers will be reimbursed for up to 50% of their transportation costs. To download an application and eligibility criteria, click on www.ncagr.com/HayAlert or call 866-506-6222. Application deadline is Dec. 31. Reimbursement checks are expected to be mailed beginning in February.

The Ag Partners Hay Relief Program, funded by $11,000 in donations from farm credit associations across the state, will reimburse farmers 50 cents per mile, up to $300, for a load of hay moved from out of state. Reimbursements will be made on a first-come, first-served basis as long as funding is available. For information, call the Hay Alert hotline at 866-506-6222 or go to www.ncagr.com/HayAlert/AgPartners.htm. Farmers can apply for both relief programs.