June 24 2013 08:23 AM

2013 Farm Progress Hay Expo had plenty to see and learn about.

For hay and forage enthusiasts, the 2013 Farm Progress Hay Expo was the place to be. There were numerous equipment line-ups and demonstrations held at Regancrest Holsteins on June 19th and 20th near Waukon, Iowa. Visitors from all over, even international guests, flocked to northeast Iowa to scope out the newest and most efficient equipment and products from hay industry exhibitors. Mowing, tedding, chopping and baling demonstrations were held on 150 acres of Regancrest land. Ten acres were devoted to equipment and hay industry exhibits.

According to Frank Holdmeyer, executive editor at Farm Progress Companies, there were over 100 exhibitors at this year's Hay Expo, a record number for the show, which is in its 27th year. He also noted there were a number of local businesses present, allowing involvement of the surrounding community. "[The Hay Expo is] a great opportunity for people in the hay and forage business to show products on an actual farm and see them in action," said Holdmeyer.

Along with the exciting field demonstrations, Hay and Forage Grower sponsored a "Lunch and Learn," where University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist Bruce Anderson presented his insight on hay marketing and pricing. Anderson shared that hay can be difficult to market because it can change and the terms in which we market it (green, leafy, fine stemmed) aren't exact. "Hay today may be not the same as hay being fed this winter…[we] start from a losing position when talking about hay marketing because hay isn't hay," Anderson said.

Anderson went on to say that the key to marketing well is knowing what you are selling, what quality you have, what you want, what the customer wants and how to give both parties what they want. This consensus between two parties is where marketing hay can be tricky because there is no standard price. "The price of anything comes down to what two people agree upon," Anderson noted.

Although Anderson promotes honesty and knowledge of the product, and what both parties want out of the transaction, he admits that, "Hay is crazy in terms of pricing." Anderson stated some factors that influence pricing, like supply and demand, alternatives to hay, corn prices (more than anything else), and the region. He thinks that hay prices are going to stay high and he advises hay buyers and sellers to keep a close eye on other commodities because of their influence on the price of hay.

The 2013 Farm Progress Hay Expo attendees left knowing what options were available for hay/forage products and equipment, how effective that equipment could be in the field and how to market the hay they work so hard to grow and harvest.
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The author is the 25th Hoard's Dairyman editorial intern. She will be a senior at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly, Taylor is majoring in dairy science with an agricultural communications minor. Pires grew up on a 500-cow dairy in Merced County, Calif.