Hay Farming and Food Security in Interior Alaska

Hay is the third largest crop grown in Alaska. There is such a large market for hay to feed, horses, cattle, goats, pigs and other livestock that it keeps the hay farmers busy. Yes, there is a market, but the cost of clearing land, and equipment needed to run a hay farm sometime far exceeds the cost of the land.

In spite of the millions of dollars appropriated and available for agriculture, food security, and to farmers, the process is somewhat vague and there is no one agency or place that helps the farmers get the grant money. Farming is mostly family run operation, the farmers work hard morning till night in the season, so they have no time to learn and actually write a grant for funds. Most interestingly they don’t even know where to go for information !

These funding challenges along with our cold harsh climate and a short growing season prevent Alaska from growing more than just 5% of our food. We are far away from the goals of achieving food security, let alone move that percentage from 5 to maybe 10.

On this episode I speak with Mike Priebe, who started hay farming a few years ago and is passionate about addressing the food security issue in Alaska.  He is part of the conversation that will help other farmers, and supporting entities to share ideas, resources, knowledge so together everyone can succeed. He and other like minded people want to do something about the food security in Alaska, but feel that knowledge, resources, and collaboration is limited. Mike has been fortunate to have good mentors and feels blessed. Mike and more farmers like him that are stepping up to address these issues are the ones that are going to help move the needle from 5 to 10 or even more. Now, its time to support them.