DATA NEEDED: The Australian Fodder Industry Association is calling for a national database for domestic hay supplies.
DATA NEEDED: The Australian Fodder Industry Association is calling for a national database for domestic hay supplies.

Hay database called upon to determine domestic supplies

WITH hay supplies at an all-time low, the Australian fodder industry has put out a call for a national database.

Bushfires and ongoing droughts have put an extensive strain on the fodder industry, with stocks at an all-time low.

Knowing how much fodder is available, and where it is, would not only help growers and buyers, but several agricultural industries, Australian Fodder Industry Association CEO John McKew has said.

“When we’ve got such high demand, diminishing supplies and high prices, we are in a critical time,” Mr McKew said.

“But people are getting nervous about how much is available in the system, and how long it is going to last.”

Eleven years ago, a study was undertaken into the Australian fodder industry and its use, demand and trade.

Mr McKew said an updated report, with the support of a department agency such as ABARES, would be a starting point.

“If we can get it up to date it will give us a good foundation of how big Australia’s fodder industry presently is,” he said.

While there isn’t a concrete plan of what the proposed database would look like, Mr McKew said many agricultural industries were interested in the project.

With domestic fodder supplies and sales not recorded, Mr McKew said he was continually asked how much fodder was in the system and if there were any reserves.

“It’s something everyone wants … and there’s value across a lot of industries, but it’s a hard nut to crack,” he said.

He said the database would list domestic fodder supplies, and that fodder exporters had worked closely with the domestic market during the drought.

“Some growers with contracts have opted to supply the domestic market instead of the export market,” he said.

“And the exporters have been willing to do that even though there may have been contracts in place.”

The export market accounts for just 10 per cent of Australian fodder volumes, and 95 per cent of fodder exported is oaten hay.

“Exporters have supported the domestic industry, where they’ve bought hay that might have not had the quality for the end use export market, so they’ve been releasing it back into the domestic market,” he said.

Mr McKew doubted the 2019 season would make the export levels seen in 2018.

“The drought is a contributing factor to the tightness of the export market,” he said.

In 2018, one-million tonnes of hay was exported, down nine per cent on the previous year.


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