Agricultural Crime

According to a January New York Times article county sheriffs, farmers, and ranchers across the West are grappling with a new scourge: hay rustling. Months of drought and grass fires have pushed the price of grain, hay, and other animal feed to near records, making the hay bales an increasingly irresistible target for thieves. Some steal them for profit, while others are fellow farmers acting out of desperation. Sheriffs in rural counties in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and  Oklahoma say the spike in hay thefts is part of a broader rise in agricultural crime. California’s farmers have grappled recently with growing thefts of grapes, beehives and avocados, and sheriffs say high prices of scrap metal have made agricultural machinery--whether it works or not--an appealing target. On the range, wire fences are being clipped to allow interloping herds to poach grazing land. In addition, dubious online merchants are selling feed to farmers but never delivering.