A farmer in western Texas wants to make hay and sell it for meat, but he’s got one big hurdle: The state is still banning the practice of barrel farming.
The Texas Farm Bureau, a group that works to conserve and improve rural economies, said last month it will begin banning the industry in 2017.
It’s the latest move by the state to end the practice, which has long been practiced in parts of the Southwest, the Midwest and the Northeast.
“We want to be a part of a conversation about food safety, about food supply, about environmental sustainability and about our agricultural community,” said Tom Stoll, the bureau’s director of advocacy.
“This is an issue that is very significant to our members.”
But state Rep. Ron Nixey, a Republican, has proposed legislation that would allow farmers to make a limited amount of hay from their own hayfields.
It’s modeled after California’s wine industry, which allows the production of a limited number of wineries.
Nixey’s bill would allow for hay to be grown in one-acre hayfields with no more than three other hay producers in a state.
The state’s current law allows farmers to harvest their own grain or grain products.
“It is important to note that the bill does not prohibit the production or sale of hay,” Nixay’s bill reads.
“Rather, it simply provides that it may be used for agricultural purposes.”
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep, Steve Troxell, said he supports the bill to help farmers.
“The reality is, this is a big business that’s been in business for a very long time, so it is important for people to understand that they’re not allowed to make the leap,” Troxel said.
“You can make a lot of hay and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”
But farmers in other states are pushing back against Nixes bill.
In Iowa, state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Iowa City, told CNN that “there’s a lot more hay than there is hay.”
He added, “It’s not a good idea.”
In New Mexico, state Senator, Kevin Yoder, said the bill will not help farmers and is not a solution to their problems.
“I would have preferred to see a way for farmers to have access to the land without having to pay for permits, which they’re still required to do, but unfortunately, the bill doesn’t address that,” he said.
“I don’t think that this bill is going to be the silver bullet to all of their problems,” he added.
While many farmers in New Mexico are now farming in larger fields, there are still plenty of small farmers, like James Hulick, in a 1,000-acre pasture outside Albuquerque, who said he hopes to make his own hay.
“I think there’s more than enough hay for us,” Hulicks son, Andrew, told the Albuquerque Journal.
Hulicks dad, who’s also the director of a local ranching operation, said there’s not enough hay in the state.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make it work,” he told the paper.