US Hay Exports Growing

US alfalfa hay exports last year nearly set a record high, falling short of the 2013 high by only 34,562 tonnes, and with more abundant rainfall the last two years, it would seem that a new record could be set this year.

Given the expense of trucking hay from one place to another in the US, it is difficult to even envision US hay exports would amount to much, especially during the latest long-term drought.  But hay exports continued to grow with alfalfa hay exports hitting a record in 2013 at 1.974 million tonnes and other hay exports peaking in 2012 at 1.944 million tonnes.

Foreign Agricultural Service data show the trend in forage exports going back to 1994.  It shows the rise in alfalfa and other hay exports and that exports of alfalfa cubes, meal and pellets keep trundling along at a steady, but low, level.




While domestic and export hay prices rose to put many cattle producers out of business and pare the herds of many others, it seems the taste for meat is growing world wide, with the wealthiest countries able to import alfalfa and other hay in spite of drought-induces record high prices.

Of the countries importing US alfalfa as hay and not pellets or cubes, Japan, South Korea, China and the United Arab Emirates are the largest buyers, according to USDA-FAS data.

In 2012 and the record year of 2013, the UAB was the largest importer of US alfalfa hay.  This country’s level of buying interest declined in 2014 and again in 2015.

China’s buying interest clearly grew in each of the last four years as consumer demand for beef rose.  Since 2012, China’s annual purchases of US alfalfa hay rose 509,376 tonnes, or 141.8% to 868,595 from 359,219.  This is enough rise in the last three years for an average annual gain of 47.3%.




Cash cattle markets this week have been quiet, although bids of $131 per cwt on a live basis were heard in Texas on Tuesday.  Asking prices were around $136 so no trading took place.  No dressed-basis bidding was reported, although asking prices ranged from $212 to $214.

Cash cattle sold $3 lower last week at mostly $133 per cwt on a live basis in Texas and Kansas.  In Nebraska, live sales were posted at $128 to $132, with dressed-basis sales at $206, generally $4 lower.

The USDA reported lower wholesale beef prices Tuesday, with choice down $0.80 per cwt at $214.49, and select off $3.63 at $209.07.  The choice/select spread widened to $5.42 from $2.59, and there were 89 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Monday was $156.95, up $0.01.  This compares with Mar’s Tuesday settlement of $154.50, up $4.47.