Favourable seasonal conditions, and an increase in the amount of hay available for the domestic market, have led to cautious optimism among fodder exporters.
Australian Fodder Industry Association chief executive John McKew said export volumes for the first five months of 2020 are up, on a year-on-year basis.
He said 531,497 MT had been exported until the end of May, compared with 477,361 MT in the corresponding period of 2019.
The latest figures compare with a volume decline of just over six per cent, for 2019, compared with 2018.
"The year is going well, but we all know export markets can be fickle beasts and our exporters must work hard to protect and sustain their markets," Mr McKew said.
"It's a little bit early to start suggesting we'll have a record year of exports; there is a bit of moving around of export figures, from month to month.
"There is a bit of seasonality about them, as there is with most things."
But Mr McKew said during the height of the drought, exporters had to source product in a very strong domestic market, which had made things increasingly difficult.
In 2018, Australia exported 1.2million metric tonnes.
"I would expect some evening out, but five months in, we are looking like we could reach that milestone," Mr McKew said.
"The caveats on that are the two big ones, a long, wet winter and a dry spring, will cause a little bit of moderation to an optimistic outlook.
"Australian farmers grow good oaten hay, the exporters are very committed and work hard on their relationships with customers, in major markets."
He said all sections of the industry spent time, effort and money to produce the highest quality hay and get it into overseas markets in the best possible condition.
AFIA also had very good relationships with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, which notified the peak body of any issues that might affect exports.
"Hay is not an easy product to export, it's hard to say that in 25-26 tonnes of hay, there is not a weed seed, in that product," Mr McKew said.
"That is nigh on impossible."
There had been no issues with coronavirus, in exporting hay to Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan.
"I think we are quite lucky in that in the fodder industry, and I can't see any direct impact in the markets we operate in," he said.
Importing countries still needed to feed dairy and beef cattle.
"The demand still seems to be flowing, in those markets."
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