News broke this week that China had approved the importations of eight genetically modified (GM) crops. Two glyphosate-resistant alfalfa events were included on the list. This seemed inevitable as China has become more friendly towards GM crops, even working on its own GM projects in recent years. An article last year also stated that China was starting to accept GM crops on food security grounds. Export contacts I spoke with said it is still very early in the process and no protocols have been established. The USDA and Chinese officials should start working on these soon.

What does this mean for U.S. alfalfa hay exports to China?

So far, the U.S. has been able to fill Chinese demand with nonGM crops. The export contacts I have spoken with don’t think it will have much of an impact on the price for export hay in the West. With this change, buyers would now have a larger pool of alfalfa hay to buy from. If the protocols allow exporters to stop testing product, that would be a huge win given the high costs of these tests. It would also take away the possibility of a positive GM test as a quality claim from the buyers. This would make the whole shipping process better for exporters.

Some have said they purposely limit the sizes of their booking to China because if one container is popped for a positive GM test, the whole booking is rejected. This would improve the buying and shipping process of hay going to China. It also takes away a bargaining chip from the Chinese buyers that would make the selling process that much easier.

Josh Callen

Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight. Callen is based in Twin Falls, Idaho.