John Flemmer had plenty of opportunities this summer and fall to sell the large round bales of alfalfa-grass hay that he makes on 1,500 acres near Golden Valley, ND.
“The phone has been ringing a lot,” says Flemmer, who farms in partnership with his son, Evan, and brother, Leroy. “We’ve had calls from people in Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon, Kansas and Texas. We even had one call from New Mexico.”
But, like many, Flemmer doesn’t have much hay to sell. The extremely dry, hot summer reduced his production to roughly one-third of normal. “It was terrible this year. We were only able to put up 3,430 bales. Last year, when it was so wet, we made 9,617 bales.”
With his inventory almost depleted, Flemmer has been focusing his marketing efforts close to home.
“I have to take care of my long-time, local customers first. Some of them have been buying from me for 20 years. I can’t just jump in and jump out on them. Many of them are struggling right now. I want to do what I can to help them, so I know they’ll be there when I need them.”
For that reason, Flemmer has also resisted increasing his hay prices. This fall, he’s getting around $100/ton for bales weighing 1,425 lbs. Prices have been double that for bales for sale in local newspapers. “It would be nice to get $200/ton. But you have to wonder how your customers can stay in business at that price. What do you do when they’re not around anymore?”
While Flemmer still has some hay in inventory, he’s not actively selling at this point. With a herd of 175 beef cows, he wants hay in reserve for the upcoming winter feeding season. “We’re already feeding supplemental hay to the cows because our pastures are so worn down due to the drought.”
To contact Flemmer, call 701-880-1149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.