There’s another rebuttal from the California ag community to The Wall Street Journal editorial alleging that the U.S. will ship 50 billion gallons of water to China in alfalfa exports.

Dan Putnam, University of California Extension forage specialist, has written a blog response to the Journal article, “Parched in the West but Shipping Water to China, Bale by Bale.”

“This article decries the export of alfalfa hay from California to China, making the point that when alfalfa is exported, it represents the export of badly needed ‘water,’ ” writes Putnam.

“However, if one is to decry the export of ‘virtual water’ in the form of ag products, why stop with alfalfa?  Hay ranks 16th in value of ag exports from California. California exports vastly more ‘water’ (if you will) used to produce crops such as almonds (#1 export crop, nearly 80% exported), citrus and rice (the majority of which are exported) than the water embodied in California hay. Why not criticize wine, walnuts and tomatoes, which are exported in large quantities?  Could it be that people LIKE and appreciate wine and walnuts, and thus are reluctant to criticize, while they really can’t relate to a bale of hay? Ah, the lowly alfalfa plant!

“Nationally, the largest exported crops are soybean, corn and wheat at about 47, 38 and 27 million metric tons in 2012, respectively, dwarfing that of the about 3 million MT of all hay (including alfalfa) exported from Western ports. Water to produce 112 million MT of grains, now that’s a lot of virtual water!”

For more of Putnam’s viewpoints, visit, “Is Shipping Water To China In Alfalfa Hay Immoral? California Alfalfa and Forage Association executive director Aaron Kiess also refuted the article as reported in eHay Weekly’s Nov. 6 issue, “Op-Ed Hurts Alfalfa Image, Says California Group Official.”