A state program that brings hay bales into North Carolina from other states is helping local cattle ranchers hit hard by the state's prolonged drought.
State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler discussed the ongoing program Tuesday, two months after state officials agreed spend up to $3.5 million to purchase 100,000 bales of hay.
The lack of rain last summer caused significant shortages in North Carolina's winter hay supply, endangering the state's 800,000 heads of cattle.
Troxler said farmers now have access to hay at six locations statewide. Another program reimburses farmers for traveling expenses if they collect hay on their own.
Troxler said he's hopeful the predicted hay shortage crisis has been avoided.
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