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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2020, Vol. 19 Issue (4): 1149-1158    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(19)62832-7
Special Issue: Agricultural Economics and Management
Agricultural Economics and Management Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
China’s alfalfa market and imports: Development, trends, and potential impacts of the U.S.–China trade dispute and retaliations
Qingbin WANG1, ZOU Yang2 
1 Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
2 School of Economics, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, P.R.China
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This study examines the development and trends of China’s alfalfa market and imports, identifies key factors for the rapid increase in China’s alfalfa imports, and discusses potential impacts of the U.S.–China trade dispute and retaliations on the alfalfa markets and trade in both nations.  China’s rapid transition toward larger-scale commercial dairy production, with enhanced feed and cost management as well as quality and safety control, and its limited resources for high-quality alfalfa production are key factors for the dramatic increase in its alfalfa imports, from 19 601 metric tons in 2008 to 1.38 million metric tons (mmt) in 2018.  While the United States dominated China’s alfalfa imports with an average share of 97.01% from 2007 to 2017, the share dropped to 83.76% in 2018 and 63.28% in January 2019 due to the trade dispute and retaliations started in 2018.  China will likely remain a large importer of alfalfa because of both its growing demand and the comparative advantages of imported alfalfa in quality and price, but the imports from the United States will be highly affected by the ongoing trade dispute and negotiations.  China is also expected to make more efforts to reduce its dependence on U.S. alfalfa through increased investment in domestic alfalfa production and identification of alternative sources of alfalfa and other hay imports. 
Keywords:  China’s alfalfa imports        U.S. alfalfa exports        dairy industrialization        U.S.–China trade dispute and retaliations        GM-free standards  
Received: 10 January 2019   Accepted: 04 March 2020
Fund: The authors would like to thank the Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station at the University Vermont, USA, and the National Social Science Fund of China (17ZDA067) for financial support of this project.
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence ZOU Yang, Tel/Fax: +86-22-23501401, E-mail:    
About author:  Qingbin WANG, E-mail:;

Cite this article: 

Qingbin WANG, ZOU Yang. 2020. China’s alfalfa market and imports: Development, trends, and potential impacts of the U.S.–China trade dispute and retaliations. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 19(4): 1149-1158.

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