• WisBusiness

Monday, May 25, 2015

MaryBeth Matzek: New app helps farmers determine hay prices


By MaryBeth Matzek
There seems to be an app for just about anything and now you can add finding current hay pricing to the list.

Greg Blonde, an agriculture agent with the UW-Extension in Waupaca County, has developed a free app to help farmers identify hay prices and help negotiate or purchase standing hay. Logically called Hay Pricing, the app is available for Android smart phones and on the Google Play store.

Blonde says users can do a lot with the app from entering projected hay yield, cutting schedule and harvest costs to calculate the standing value per acre of their crop. Unlike soybeans and corn, there isn't an established commodity market for hay, which means finding reliable pricing information is a challenge – especially when it's still out in the field.

"It's that time of the year when fresh mowed hay fills the air across Wisconsin, which also means many farmers and rural neighbors will be negotiating the sale of standing hay," Blonde says. "This new mobile tool helps farmers and rural landowners access the latest hay market information on the go, plus gives them a simple tool to help estimate field value when considering buying or selling standing hay."

Each year, an estimated 2.5 million acres of dry hay and haylage are harvested in Wisconsin, with baled hay alone accounting for $80 to $100 million in market sales.

While the app was developed in Wisconsin, Blonde says farmers in 20 different states can utilize it. He says the app benefits more than just farmers, adding that Extension educators, feed and crop consultants, lenders, rural appraisers and real estate professionals can use the app to find information to help them do their jobs better.

This isn't the first app Blonde created for farmers. Last fall, he worked with Smart mAPPS Consulting on a free app for pricing wet corn to help buyers and sellers better manage the immature corn crop. That app features a link to current local elevator bid prices, a comparative value for wet corn vs. the current dry shell corn price and an adjustment for drying cost. Smart mAPPS Consulting is a Waupaca-based company that looks to develop apps to help farmers.

Moving ahead?

The long-discussed expo center in downtown Appleton may be one step closer to reality. The Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, which would be connected to the proposed $27 million Fox Cities Exhibition Center and manage it, apparently has a new owner. Inner Circle Investments of Florida is buying the hotel, which is currently in receivership.

City of Appleton officials hope that once the new owners are on board a management agreement can be hammered out between the two. After that, the next goal would be to get municipalities in the Fox Cities to raise the room tax to provide funding to get the center built.

The deal is expected to be finalized in the next two weeks and no purchase price was given.

Wind to power brewery

Badger State Brewing Co. in Green Bay will soon be completely powered by the win, according to a new agreement with Arcadia Power.

Arcadia will provide Badger State Brewing with energy from its Midwest winds farms. Badger State Brewing president Andrew Fabry says using wind power is the business' first step in reducing its carbon footprint.

"The brewery business plan had renewable energy as a focal point from the start and we are proud to take the lead in making our brewery clean power based," he said in a statement announcing the deal.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.

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