Kittitas County hay exporters face decline in demand

Mary Park, Central News Watch

Mary Park/Central News Watch

Local hay exporters are feeling the pandemic’s disruption of the global supply chain.

As restaurants, schools, coffee shops and other businesses closed across the world, the demand for dairy products dropped, which directly affected farmers’ need for hay.

Blaine Calaway, the chief operating officer of Calaway Trading, Inc., said the dairies in both the U.S. and possibly other overseas markets such as Japan begin to reduce their dairy cattle headcount.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to continue to need to have the same number of animals and to continue to feed them, milk them and not be generating profit off of that,” Calaway said.

He added that the ripple effect from the dairy farmers’ feed ration puts increased pressure on the exporters to put products at a cheaper price.

“I think that every exporter is going to be evaluating their current inventory stocks,” Calaway said. “They’re going to be making assessments based on things like current exchange rate… and receiving feedback on customers overseas.”

Bill Haberman, general manager at Stone Wings II, LLC. said around early March, the emphasis was on the lack of shipping containers and vessels to move products. Now, declining demand has made the situation more severe.

“They do need the feed to keep the animals going, there is demand, but not as much as we normally see,” Haberman said. “I think it’s going to take longer than I had first estimated for us to get back to normal or what was normal before as far as movement and the transfer of goods between countries.”