Neal Denton

East Tennessee Farm Relief agricultural advisor

After the benefit concert this summer, where are we with East Tennessee Farm Relief?

The Aaron Tippin concert raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $47,00-$48,000. Now we've taken in all the farmers' relief applications and separated them by county. We're getting together two reps from each region to evaluate and distribute the hay that the money will buy.

How much hay can you get?

You're looking at $6-$7 a bale, bought and delivered, so around 7,000-8,000 bales. Two years ago you could have bought good quality hay for $3-$4 per bale.

How did hay get so expensive?

The droughts last year and this raised prices dramatically. Farmers had to ship a lot of hay in, and the cost of fuel, fertilizer, and seed have gone up dramatically in the past three years. Just for an example, three years ago people were paying $300 for a ton of fertilizer; this year you're looking at just shy of $1,000—it went from about $40 acre to $120 or $150.

Have a lot of farmers applied for the assistance?

Yeah, we got in about 180 applications, most of them small family farms or part-time beef producers. I imagine we're going to end up helping 100-120 with some hay.

Will the rain we've had recently help the hay crop?

It helps just a little with growing hay. Where it really makes a difference is extending our pasture season. A lot of farmers were already feeding hay to the animals because it was so dry. The recent rains will help bring the pastures back up, so we can save more hay for the winter.

Any more benefit concerts planned?

We're working on putting together another one. If it comes off, we'll probably use the money and come up with some sort of fuel and fertilizer voucher

Any chance, of, say, a heavy metal farm benefit concert?

It'll probably be country, that's what they'll stick to.