Chinese Raise Alfalfa In The U.S.

China’s demand for dairy products has lead the country, in recent years, to import hay from the U.S. But it’s also raising its own alfalfa here – on a 22,000-acre ranch nearly 200 miles east of Salt Lake City, UT. An article in the Idaho Statesman, examines the operation and people’s reactions to it.

“Three years ago, a pair of Chinese entrepreneurs purchased this alfalfa farm for a discount price of less than $10 million. Each year since, they've shipped about 22,000 tons of super-compacted, ranch-grown alfalfa to China.”

Farming Demographics

The typical U.S. farmer is still male and in the 50-plus age range, but the demographics are changing, at least in California. The number of new farmers between the ages of 25 and 34, many of them women, grew 11% between 2007 and 2012, the Sacramento Bee reports.

“The number of women farming in California has steadily increased over the past three decades. The 1978 USDA census counted 6,202 women who listed farming as their main occupation. By 2012, there were 13,984.”

Extension Agent Steps Down

Carol Frate, a long-time University of California Extension specialist, is retiring, taking her 36 years of experience with her, according to the Visalia (CA) Times-Delta.

“A UC Davis grad, Frate said she wanted to work on agriculture research because it meant working on a finding a solution for difficulties local farmers faced, ‘It was applied research, solving problems, making contributions,’ she said. ‘It was working with people, working with farmers and working in solving problems.’ "

During her time in Tulare County, Frate contributed greatly toward alfalfa research on topics such as spider-mite control and early seeding alfalfa as a weed-management method.

Preparing For Fall

It’s not too early to think about fall pasture management, according to Southern States Cooperative, which offers its own pasture-management checklist:

“After a summer full of high temperatures and inconsistent rain, it's important to do a late summer evaluation of your pastures to see how well they handled the season's weather.”