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Welcome to the National Hay Association

 The National Hay Association, the national trade association for the U.S. hay industry, works daily within the industry, federal agencies, and the Congress itself to create an environment that benefits hay merchants and the people who depend on hay and straw in their commerce. A non-profit organization, NHA's activities are funded entirely through membership dues. NHA proudly represents hay producers, brokers, dealers and consumers of forage products, as well as disciplines and activities of businesses that provide products and services to the hay industry.


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Memories of the 2022 Annual Convention!

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Gary Smith

2023 NHA Haymaker of the Year

Gary is the youngest of 5 children.  As soon as he could walk, he started his career in farming by shadowing and helping his dad.  When he and his dad would deliver hay, this young man would take over the driving when his dad got tired.  In fact, he pulled into a scale one night in Nebraska and was told that he should wake up his dad to continue the trip.  Gary was 11 years old!

Gary was elected to the Board of Directors in 1998.  In 1999, he was also named to the Board of Directors of NFTA as one of the NHA representatives.  And in 2003, he was named chair of the NFTA representatives. During that time, he took a load of hay to Sioux Falls for testing purposes and the hay standards were set based on that test.  These standards are still used.

This NHA member has travelled to at least 15 countries and he first went to Costa Rica in 1999 to visit some dairy farmers that he met at World Dairy Expo.

In 2002 and 2003 he helped man the NHA booth at Agro-Mexico, and it was in 2002 that he and Bob Humpal famously set out to find where tequila was produced and purchase a quantity to ship home. They hired a taxi cab driver that spoke English, and told him what they wanted to do. After about 40 miles going over sand and gravel roads and hills, they came to this little village with cobblestone roads. The driver stopped to talk to two young boys who came along to show them where tequila grows and two alcohol manufacturing plants. After sampling and purchasing a few bottles of tequila, they headed back to the hotel.

On the way home, they came upon a road blocked by the Mexican army. They thought “There goes the tequila and we are going to end up in jail?

The driver told them to keep their mouths shut. He would do the talking and they should do what he said.  They were told to step outside, and they did. That’s when two Mexican Army soldiers pointed their machine guns at them while the others searched their car. You can imagine what was going through their minds. Finally, the cab driver said, "Let’s go."  They asked the cab driver why they were stopped,  He said they were suspected of smuggling guns and drugs.  They didn’t care about the tequila!

They finally arrived back at the hotel safe but a few minutes late for the evening meal. Bob Humpal said he never wanted to go back to Mexico and he still has the two bottles of tequila.

The haymaker has only been married one time.  It was a wedding organized by the NHA and he married his bride, Gary Freeburg.  That marriage remains in Limbo.


Gary was elected President in 2009 and by then, he had met, Joni Lowe.  His winter meeting was at the Tamarindo Diva Resort in Costa Rica and his convention was at Cadillac Jack's Gaming Resort in Deadwood, SD. The hotel was a bit small and the banquet was held in the parking garage.  Joni helped him with decorations and organization.

Gary  rarely missed NHA meetings and for many years, he stocked and organized the hospitality suite at the conventions. 

He has never had any children but he has taken a local young man under his wing and is allowing him to farm his land.  He and Joni spend most of his time at their home in Costa Rica these days, 

Gary became an Honorary Member of the NHA in 2021 and now  he becomes the 2023 Haymaker of the Year!


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