FARMERS are urged to secure their livestock feed needs now as the drought and bushfires spark supply concerns come autumn.
Initial Australian Fodder Industry Association market forecasts indicated there would be enough hay to supply the nation until winter, but these have since been revised to predict a shortage of fodder by as early as March or April.
AFIA chief executive officer John McKew said before recent bushfires, demand was already strong because of the drought.
"There was already significant quantities fodder heading across the country, particularly to the east coast," he said.
"These fires are only going to exacerbate that demand and put more pressure on supplies. We don't want to be alarmist, but we have to warn people."
RELATED READING:Fodder heads to NSW farmers
Mr McKew said the historically-high prices for hay had been relatively stable for the past few months, with good quality cereal/oaten hay making $400 a tonne to $500/t.
But the fires had caused a slight increase of up to $50/t in some regions, he said.
"Interestingly, straw prices have come off a bit, to below $200/t," he said.
"This may be due to extra supply coming onto the market, particularly from South West Vic and South East SA, and even opportunistic straw production this past season because of strong demand."
RELATED READING:Hay donated to drought-hit Upper Mid North
Mr McKew expected recent donation drives to also have an effect on the market.
"Hats off to those who have spare hay to donate," he said.
"But that may add to the impost we're currently feeling on the supply side of the fodder industry.
"Supplies were tight this time last year as well, but this year is worse because of the length of the drought and the devastating fires.
"We did have good harvests in some regions, but it is a finite resource."
- Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Click here to sign up to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.