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First Commercial Shipment of Alfalfa Hay to China

20 March 2012

CANADA - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz yesterday marked the first ever commercial shipment of Canadian alfalfa hay to enter the lucrative Chinese market. Canada gained market access for this commodity in March 2011. Twenty containers of Canadian alfalfa hay have been shipped to China and 40 more containers have been ordered, for a total estimated worth of $600,000.

"This is the first of many shipments as China's growing demand translates into new sales opportunities for Canadian producers, and jobs and growth for our economy," said Minister Ritz. "This is solid evidence that Canadian exporters are taking advantage of new market access secured by this government."

Minister Ritz congratulated Green Prairie International, a global wholesale supplier of quality forage products located in Alberta, for being the first Canadian company to ship alfalfa into the Chinese market.

"We are extremely excited by this new marketing opportunity between Canada and China," said John Van Hierden, President and CEO of Green Prairie International. "This will create unprecedented opportunities for the Canadian forage industry. We believe this will create important economic and cultural benefits to both Canada and China."

As China looks for more international suppliers to meet its growing demand for animal feed, the Harper Government is also negotiating new market access for timothy hay, another type of hay used in the livestock feed industry. Canada produces some of the best-quality hay and processed by-products in the world, with primary forage exports being timothy and alfalfa. The total worldwide exports of Canadian alfalfa and timothy hay, meal, and pellets were worth over $85 million in 2011.

China's hay and forage product imports increased significantly in the last five years, going from $119,000 in 2006 to over $103 million in 2011. Alfalfa hay is a high-quality forage used in livestock feed, particularly for dairy cattle. China is significantly expanding its dairy industry-aiming to double its milk production by 2015-and the growing demand for alfalfa hay on the Chinese market is offering some great sales opportunities for Canadian producers.

This good news is not only benefiting Canadian producers, but it is also a good example of how the Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to agricultural co-operation with China. During Prime Minister Harper's recent mission to China, a Cooperative Agreement was signed that included the creation of a joint technical working group to move forward a Canada-China Cooperation Dairy Farm Pilot Project. This project would demonstrate how Canadian feed products, live dairy cattle, and Canadian management practices would contribute to the goal of doubling milk production. While Canada is marketing its high-quality products to this important market, it also contributes to the growth of Chinese agricultural production.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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