Hay auction's relocation to Ag Center helps farming community maintain important part of local infrastructure

Auctioneer Nevin Tasto now running hay auction behind Carroll County Agricultural Center. (Michel Elben/Carroll County Times)

Happily loading 60 bales of hay onto her trailer, Lisa Murphy-Snyder said she was pleased with the quality and variety of hay offered at auction Monday morning. The hay, straw, and firewood auction has been relocated to a lot behind the Carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster. The change comes after the Westminster Livestock Auction closed Thursday, Feb. 1.

“I’m feeding two 25-year-old horses,” said Murphy-Snyder, of Middle River. “This is the closest hay auction to me. I love the people and the auctioneer is great. Right now people are selling plain grass hay online at $5 a bale. I got 60 bales of real nice hay here for $3.50 [per bale]. Definitely better prices.”


Auctioneer Nevin Tasto said the hay auction had been held at The Westminster Livestock Auction for 35 years. He said he contacted Ag Center staff and they allowed him to move the event there. He began holding the auction at the Ag Center on Feb. 19 and plans to hold it there every Monday going forward. Drop-off begins at 7 a.m. and the auction begins at 10 a.m. All pickups must be done by 3 p.m.

The auction starts with large trucks and trailers holding round and square bales of hay and straw. The product is also sold by the wagonload and by lots (there are 30 to 50 bales of hay or straw in a lot).

“Everybody that we had dealt with wanted it to keep going,” Tasto said. “It’s a place for farms to sell their hay and straw and a place for people to buy it. It’s needed in the county.”

According to University of Maryland Extension Carroll County’s small farm and alternative agriculture educator Peter Coffey, hay is one of the largest agricultural products produced in Carroll County.

“The auction is the dominant marketplace for its retail to Carroll County livestock owners and it’s an important part of the local agricultural infrastructure because it provides a venue for farmers to sell and buy hay,” Coffey said.

Dianna Stafford, of Union Bridge, said the hay auction is a key part of her farm’s revenue. She’s been coming to the sale for 25 years.

“This is what keeps people like me going,” Stafford said. “We sell hay, grain, and firewood here or we buy it here depending on the time of year. It helps keep the market honest. When we didn’t have it for those few weeks, morale was down and sales were down.”

Danielle Moore, of Taneytown, said she has been coming to the hay auction for 20 years. She buys hay for her sheep, goats, and cattle.

“At different times of the year, you need different kinds of hay – like when you’re lambing and you need hay with higher protein,” Moore explained. “If you can’t buy it at someone’s barn, it’s good to be able to come here and buy a variety of different types of hay.”

Chris Lewis, of Dickerson, said the auction is “like a buffet — you can pick types of hay like you’d pick steak, shrimp or chicken.”

“We usually make our own hay but we ran out this year,” Lewis said. “We’re lucky we can come here. I like supporting our local farmers.”