Alberta company first to sell Canadian alfalfa to China

Dairy demand China needs more forage for its goal of doubling milk production by 2015

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Green Prairie International, a global wholesale supplier of quality forage products located in Alberta, has become the first Canadian company to ship alfalfa into the Chinese market.

Twenty containers of Canadian alfalfa hay have been shipped to China and 40 more containers have been ordered; the total estimated $600,000, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a release.

Canada gained market access for alfalfa hay in March 2011.

“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,” Ritz said.

“We are extremely excited by this new marketing opportunity between Canada and China,” said Mr. 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.”

Negotiations continue towards market access for timothy hay as China looks for more international suppliers to meet its growing demand for animal feed, the release said. Canadian alfalfa and timothy hay, meal, and pellets total exports worldwide 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. 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.

During Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent mission to China, a Co-operative Agreement was signed that included the creation of a joint technical working group to move forward a Canada–China Co-operation Dairy Farm Pilot Project. The project would demonstrate how Canadian feed products, live dairy cattle, and Canadian management practices would contribute to this goal of doubling milk production.

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