Despite some substantial rain across parts of the state, many Texas ranchers continue to struggle to feed livestock due to the lingering drought that has cost the state’s agriculture industry approximately $3.6 billion in losses.

“The drought has done more than dry up our land and evaporate our reservoirs; it also has destroyed thousands of acres of hay resources for producers who raise cattle, goats and horses,” Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said. “The drought has indeed left its mark, and unfortunately, we cannot change the fact that many ranchers were forced to reduce or sell off herds and, in some cases, even close operations. We aim to connect those who need hay with hay producers across the state and nation to help alleviate the hardship.”

Commissioner Staples is encouraging Texas livestock producers to go to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline Web site. The site currently lists more than 450 available hay suppliers. Those suppliers wishing to donate or discount hay are encouraged to make their hay available by filling out a hay supplier form on the Hay Hotline Web site.

TDA is also working with the Texas trucking industry to provide ranchers with more affordable hay transportation in times of drought and other crises.

“The cost to transport hay from out of state, or even within the state, is a costly expense that many ranchers cannot afford,” Commissioner Staples said. “We are appealing to the partnership and neighborly spirit among trucking companies to offer reduced rates for hay delivery to ensure ranchers can maintain the herds they have left through the winter.”

In the meantime, producers in need of hay should also contact their local Texas Department of Transportation office for information on baling the right of ways along Texas highways.