An online classified advertising site that lists hay, hay equipment and haying services for sale, is offering help to Gulf Coast ranchers, hard-hit by hurricanes this fall.

As the winter months approach, hay is becoming increasingly difficult to find in pars of the Gulf Coast. The Hay Barn Web site, http://www.haybarn.com, is offering growers in that area each a free hay-wanted ad on the site. Hay producers and sellers in neighboring regions can then contact those needing hay directly.

The Hay Barn, online since 1996, helps match hay buyers to sellers.

Unusually dry conditions in southern and eastern Texas this summer have reduced the number of hay cuttings, further limiting the hay supply to hurricane-damaged states. According to the USDA's Drought Monitor, moderate drought conditions extend from Texas through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Hay shortages extend as far as Missouri, where state officials are waiving permit fees for hauling hay within the state through Dec. 31.

“Hay is in short supply, and quality hay is going at premium rates this fall,” says Leslie Neal, owner of the Hay Barn Web site. “We're looking to help broaden the source region for Gulf Coast producers, bringing in hay from further out. Increasing supply in tight areas will help keep prices down.”

For more information, visit www.haybarn.com or e-mail Neal at leslie@maroon.com.