By Tom Collins
A four-year goal of the Ontario Hay and Forage co-op was finally reached late last month as Ontario hay was shipped overseas.
The co-op was originally founded in 2015 to find non-North American markets for Ontario hay. In late March, a shipment of Timothy hay was sent by ship to United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country in the Middle East that borders Saudi Arabia. The 25 metric tonnes of hay, which came from a few of the 80 co-op members, will take six weeks to arrive. Hay is scarce in the UAE because there isn’t enough water, but the farms can be large. One dairy farm has 13,500 cows that are milked three times a day.
The hay sent to the UAE is the first time the co-op has sent an overseas shipment. Co-op board member Larry Davis, who farms at Burford in Brant County, said this was sort of a trial run.
“We want to make sure everything works smoothly and make sure the receiving end is happy with our product,” he said. The hope is to make continuous shipments to the UAE and other markets in Asia, the Middle East and the European Union.
The co-op is looking for another 100 members so the organization can build a compacting hay facility in Western Ontario that will process, dry and export up to 100,000 metric tonnes of hay per year, about two per cent of Ontario’s annual hay production. Lifetime memberships to the co-op are $1,000.
The co-op will be holding a growers meeting on April 25. Visit https://ontariohayandforagecooperativeinc.wildapricot.org for more information.