As hay supplies dwindle, drought conditions are forcing Alabama cattle producers to sell calves and thin out herds early to avoid further losses.
Agriculture officials say it's not a stampede to the auction block yet, but producers are getting nervous about the lack of rain.
Unlike 2000 when farmers trucked hay from county-to-county to help cattle producers, Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Ronnie Murphy says this year there is "just no hay to move."
Federal agriculture officials on July 13 opened some Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage for emergency hay and grazing in six counties: Elmore, Montgomery, Macon, Pike, Covington and Geneva. The area extends 150 miles out from any of those counties.
John Pulliam of Tuskegee, Macon County coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says some type of feed assistance is needed.
If adequate rain comes, he says, it still would take about a month for grass to cover the pastures.