President Biden announced a breakthrough in the long-running U.S.-EU dispute over airliner subsidies on Tuesday: Suspension of retaliatory tariffs on each other's products for five years beginning in July. The overall $4 billion in EU tariffs included duties on $1.4 billion of U.S. ag exports from frozen seafood to cotton, wheat, tobacco and alcohol.
Thanks to high demand for American-grown corn, soybeans, and meat, U.S. farm exports will soar to a record $164 billion this year, far above the current mark of $152.3 billion, set in 2014, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. China, reclaiming its spot as the No. 1 customer, would account for $1 of every $5 in overseas sales.
Global trade in food and agricultural products grew by 3.5 percent last year, according to the WTO, leading to descriptions that the sector was robust and resilient in the face of the worst pandemic in a century. However, a USDA working paper says the impact of the coronavirus was obscured by such factors as the de-escalation of the Sino-U.S. trade war.
After buying huge amounts of the 2020 U.S. corn crop, China bought a total of 3.74 million tonnes (147 million bushels) of American corn last week, all of it for delivery after this year's crop is mature, reported the USDA. "New crop" corn was 80 cents to $1 a bushel lower in price at the Chicago futures markets than the 2020 crop.
U.S. farmers will reap two of their largest corn and soybean crops ever and sell them for the highest average prices since the commodity boom ended several years ago, said the government Wednesday in its first projections of the fall harvest. The USDA also said that global soybean king Brazil would increase its share of the world market at the expense of U.S. exports.
Importers are adding to the mountain of U.S. corn already headed to China with the purchase of 1.36 million tonnes of corn for delivery in the marketing year that opens Sept. 1. The purchase, reported by private exporters to USDA, was worth $400 million at current futures prices.
The U.S. economy could grow at its fastest rate — 7 percent — in nearly four decades, with the farm sector sharing in the energetic recovery from the pandemic, said CoBank on Thursday. "Many in the agricultural industry are experiencing the best market conditions since 2013," said the lender in a quarterly assessment of the sector.
By a wide margin, soybeans are the most valuable U.S. farm export, accounting for 18 cents of every $1 in sales during calendar 2020, said the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service on Wednesday.
Although China has yet to fulfill its "phase one" promises of mammoth purchases of U.S. farm exports, "the fact is, they need us," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilscak during a digital news conference. He added that, with China back in the U.S. market, commodity prices are high enough that, "I'm not sure there's necessarily a need for any trade-related assistance [to farmers] at this point."