When the trade war started between the U.S. and China in July 2018, alfalfa hay exports from the West Coast to China began a downward slide that reached a low in January 2019 of 25,461 metric tons (MT). The high in alfalfa hay exports to China in 2018 was 93,305 MT in April. Alfalfa hay exports in August 2019 at 84,749 MT were not only the highest in 14 months, and 18 percent higher than a year ago, but were 60 percent higher than the average of 52,805 MT during the first six months of 2019.

Why were alfalfa hay exports to China so much stronger in August?

With higher tariffs on alfalfa hay to go into effect on December 15, Chinese importers wanted alfalfa hay delivered sooner than originally scheduled. When President Trump announced in early September to not increase tariffs on Chinese imports on December 15, the Chinese Ministry of Finance announced that alfalfa hay would be exempt from an increased tariff of 25 percent. We’ll see how this impacts U.S. alfalfa hay exports to China in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Seth Hoyt

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