Plenty of canadian hay heads south, but majority of grain stays home

The open market is drawing lots of crop into the United States, but it isn’t hard red spring wheat.

“We have been just inundated with calls (from the United States) wanting hay, and we have been selling it,” said broker Allan Johnston of
Welwyn, Sask.

“I’m buying currently for four companies and we’re talking to more.”

The drought in the U.S. Midwest has not only devastated corn and soybean crops, which are used for feeding hogs and cattle, but also destroyed the production of pastures and hay fields.

Feedgrains for hogs can be bought and transported quite easily, but hay for cattle producers is another story. Hay is not well traded except locally, and marketing networks are primitive and mostly non-existent.

However, the need for hay in the Midwest has come at a fortunate time because of the elimination of the CWB monopoly, some say.

With the market now open for cross-border trade, brokers and marketing companies like Johnston’s have already established connections with buyers who now need to find hay.

“It’s a wonderful time for the border to be open,” said Johnston.

“Because we’re now connected to the U.S. companies because of the grain, they’re just picking up the hay.”

Johnston said his company has sold 20,000 tonnes of hay to U.S. buyers, or 1,000 to 1,200 truckloads.

One of the buyers is hauling hay from Saskatchewan to Montana, organizing deliveries from there and then hauling hay to Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Colorado and other drought-ravaged regions.

Johnston said he has orders for lots more hay, but Saskatchewan farmers are backing away.

“I’m having a little trouble getting farmers to sell. They’re getting into this bullish mode and think they’ll sell for more later,” said Johnston.

Winter wheat is also heading to U.S. buyers, Johnston said, as is as other feed wheat and barley. However, little hard red spring wheat is moving south.

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