A LEADING Australian feed trader has debunked claims that the hay market is in decline.
Feed Central managing director Tim Ford said demand for hay remains strong and good quality product will continue to fetch good prices.
"Everyone's talking about there being a big hay crop and talking the market down, but right now there is strong demand for hay and shortage of quality product,” Mr Ford said.
"We're now in the market looking for product to meet that demand.”
Mr Ford said last year's drought, low stockpiles in hay sheds, difficulties in accessing some supplies due to wet weather, and strong demand from the beef sector and exports had combined to keep the market strong.
Feed Central has waived its usual inspection fees and charges for August with a view of getting more listings to meet demand.
"Some are talking the market down but we have an alternative view - right now there is a shortage and we have buyers. There has been strong demand all winter and we need product now,” Mr Ford said.
Mr Ford said the cold and wet winter across Australia had been good for trade but could lead to access and quality problems.
"It has been a good growing season but there have been problems with cattle getting on the paddocks and bogging paddocks, which leads to strong demand for hay,” he said.
"Every hay shed in the country is empty and there's no carry-over of stock but customers still want product.”
Mr Ford said many growers had been unable to apply fertiliser due to the wet weather and water logging could also affect future yields.
However, demand remains strong.
"The beef market is very strong with an increased demand for hay and at some point the dairy industry will recover,” Mr Ford said.
He said that predictions of lower prices reflected an uneducated view of the market.
"I think the price will come back in the new season,” he said.
"The fundamental requirements for new-season product remain the same; easy all-weather access to a good quality product with minimal weather damage in a heavy large square bale and shedded over multiple months.”
Mr Ford said there was a risk of a lot of poor quality hay because of the wet conditions but good growers would get good returns.
"The professional grower who makes good quality hay should and will be rewarded for their efforts and get very good returns,” he said.
The export market remains strong and the significant price setter, particularly in Victoria.
Mr Ford said that if the export hay market sets the price above $200 a tonne, domestic growers would be happy with a discount off that while maintaining good prices.
"There's no need to give it away,” Mr Ford said.
"Good quality hay will sell first and sell for good money and there's orders right now for immediate delivery,” he added.
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