In this Fox news video the announcers are talking about how much hay is being sold to China. It's a sizable portion of it. Apparently it's cheaper to ship hay out of the ports on freighters bound back towards Asia than it is to load them on trucks and ship them to Texas. The Chinese also apparently pay more.
As usual, the chuckleheads on the HomesteadingToday forum were discussing this and generally missed the point.
Hay is not magically created from sunlight. The grass draws minerals and elements from the soil that are replenished very slowly and generally only through the manure of grazing animals. So every bale of hay you ship overseas represents a very sizable portion of soil fertility that is lost for a lifetime if not more. What happens to those hayfields in 50 years? 100 years?
I've always said that selling hay should be the LAST thing that a farmer does before declaring bankruptcy and giving up the farm. It's the kind of idiotic thing that city bred hobby farmers do because they have no real understanding of the cycle of soil fertility and the part that manure plays in it. When I see one of my chucklehead neighbors dragging out the hay equipment it tells me one thing ... they do not give a DAMN about the next generation. They don't give a damn about the land their sons and daughters are going to inherit and they're perfectly willing to trade short-term cash for long-term sustainability.
I do like to buy hay though. It tickles me pink to feed my sheep some good quality hay and then turn them loose into the pastures to poop it all out. You're buying someone else's soil fertility.