Last week’s mega-storm created major headaches for livestock producers and disrupted hay movement big time in many parts of the nation’s midsection.

“Many words have been used to describe the past week of weather. Few of them, however, would be considered positive,” wrote Missouri USDA Market News reporter Tony Hancock in his Feb. 3 report.

A good chunk of Missouri received the first blizzard warning in history, Hancock noted. All but the southeastern corner of the state was hit.

Many major roads around the state were closed and travel was nearly impossible. “Hay movement has basically been at a standstill for two weeks now as many country roads have been covered, and farmers have literally risked their lives in order to take care of livestock.”

The situation was equally dire in neighboring Kansas, according to Steve Hessman, Hancock’s USDA counterpart in Dodge City. “Bitter cold with strong winds over the entire state and snow over eastern Kansas are making things miserable for people and animals,” wrote Hessman in his Feb. 1 report. “Extra hay will be needed just to maintain livestock.”

Heavy snowfall, sleet and ice fell the same week in Oklahoma, noted Market News reporter Johnny Roberts. “The extreme cold weather, combined with strong winds, has made it difficult for livestock producers,” said Roberts, adding that supplies of alfalfa and grass hay in many parts of the state tightened up on increased demand from livestock producers.

In a related development, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) issued a press release last week on its assistance programs. It reminded livestock producers throughout the Plains and Midwestern states that several programs are available to help producers recover from livestock deaths beyond normal mortality rates and losses of purchased and/or harvested forages. The programs can also help with the additional costs of providing and transporting feed.

FSA’s Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) were specifically mentioned. Information on both programs is available on the FSA Web site. Click on Newsroom, then Fact Sheets.

FSA officials also encouraged producers looking to buy or sell hay to use Hay Net, the agency’s online hay directory. To utilize the site, each producer will need to fill out a simple registration form, and it’s free to post on the site. Similar online hay-listing services are maintained by state agencies in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.