Demand is up. Production is down. And according to feed dealer Mike Robinson of Stockton, the weather has further curtailed the availability of hay this year.
"Rain all the way from the Imperial Valley up through the southern San Joaquin Valley, during the first cutting period, so that kind of ruined some of the hay. So it all adds up to a shortage."
Michael Marsh of Western United Dairymen says the shortage means diary operators are paying considerably more for feed this year.
"At least half of their cost on the farm goes into feed and hay is a big component of that feed. The cost of premium alfalfa hay is about 20 to 30 percent above where it was in 2004."
The high quality feeds required by dairies currently sells for as much as 210 dollars a ton or about 50 dollars more than last year. Dairy operators say the increase will come out of profits.
Producers say it's going to be a while before the supply of premium hay catches up with demand.