The extended Chinese New Year from the coronavirus in early February doesn't seem to have impacted exports of alfalfa hay to China, which totaled 88,845 metric tons (MT) in February. That is 40,000 MT over last February and 36,428 MT higher than January. Our contact in China said supplies of higher quality hay at the ports are tight, and demand is good from Chinese dairies. A few contacts have expressed concern for the escalating rhetoric over the coronavirus and the impact it may have on the China-U.S. trade relationship.

The historic collapse in the dairy markets this last week has hay industry members concerned. Many dairies were just starting to make up ground from the low milk prices of 2018 to 2019. They will return to survival mode, but it’s hard to tell what impact this will have on alfalfa hay demand as many dairies were already feeding and storing as little alfalfa hay as possible. One contact in the feed industry said the current shakeup in the corn market has made some protein elements of a dairy ration more expensive. At current price points, this could make alfalfa hay with higher protein content a better option for some dairies. Either way, a return to normal can’t come soon enough.

Josh Callen

Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.