According to export data from Datamyne, U.S. timothy hay exports through September totaled 299,484 metric tons, down 20% from a year ago. Timothy hay exports were hit with a one-two punch of strong freight on board (FOB) farm prices and about a 30% appreciation in the U.S. dollar versus the Asian currencies.
Japanese importers have slowed their buying as they try to cope with the large price increase. Exporters have large inventories on hand that have been hard to move profitably. This has been good for Canadian timothy hay exports, which are up a whopping 66% from last year. Due to the high prices, Japanese customers have been less quality sensitive and are pursuing products seen as a deal.
The currency also favors the Canadians, who can sell their hay cheaper due to the extra money they make from being paid in U.S. dollars. Japanese and Korean importers have been buying more Australian oaten hay for the same reason. Unless something changes in the world economy going into next year, I would anticipate light demand for exported timothy. This will likely mean a price correction for timothy hay in the Colombia Basin for next year. Conversely, retail prices, being the other main market for Western timothy hay, were very good this year. You could see more growers trying to produce small bales for the retail market.
Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight. Callen is based in Twin Falls, Idaho.