Export hay opportunities grow

19 Sep, 2016 09:27 AM
Hay is an increasingly popular crop rotation for grain farmers.
Hay is an increasingly popular crop rotation for grain farmers.

A HAY industry analyst says Australia’s burgeoning export hay industry will continue to grow apace, with the North Asian economies of China and Japan shining lights.

Speaking at a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) grower update in Dimboola, Victoria, Jumbuk Ag principal Colin Peace said although the export hay market was exacting and best suited to experienced hay makers, it was a growing market sector.

He said demand was likely to continue to grow, with China going ‘ballistic’ in terms of increasing its numbers of dairy heifers.

“They are really looking to build their dairy herd up.”

“We are seeing a big increase in the amount of quality oaten hay going to China, which complements the more mature market in Japan.”

“There are indications the Chinese market will eventually outgrow Japan.”

He said there was a small niche emerging in Japan for wheaten hay.

“We’ve successfully exported a very small amount of wheaten hay, but out of a million tonnes of export hay that goes to Japan, there was only 30,000t of wheaten hay.”

There has also been a foothold established in the protein hay sector following a strike on the wharves in the US in 2014 which meant exports of alfafa (lucerne) hay from the US were stopped and Asian countries looked at alternative origins.

“It is always going to be difficult to compete on price with Californian lucerne hay given how cheap water is there and how valuable protein hay is domestically in Australia but 2014 showed those importers we had a good product so that is a start,” Mr Peace said.

He said the development of a lucerne hay export protocol would cement Australia’s ability to export to China.

“At present there is only a protocol for oaten hay to China, so a similar protocol for lucerne hay will be critical in developing market access into China.”

Mr Peace there were now a number of export hay plants across key hay producing zones and more were soon to come on line, including a development at Ultima in the Victorian Mallee.

He attributed this to the increase of both the export hay market and hay as a rotational option overall.

Increasing numbers of grain producers, especially in low rainfall zones are growing more hay both as a weed management tool and to offset the risk of dry springs limiting grain yields.

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media


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