The farm economy, battered since 2018 by a trade war and a pandemic, is rallying, though it is too early to declare a return to prosperity, said the president of the largest U.S. farm organization on Thursday, reserving judgment on whether more stopgap federal aid will be needed.
The Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, concluded in 1994, created tariff-rate quotas for agriculture with the expectation that they would be a stepping stone to freer trade. Instead, most of those TRQs are still in place and new WTO members have added 43 more, says a report by three USDA researchers.
The ethanol industry, which says it has lost $3.8 billion in sales since March, is looking to the Biden administration for relief at the same time that farm groups want the new president to resolve the trade war with China. But a Purdue University professor said it was unlikely Biden would immediately undertake broad-scale trade reform, pointing out that "he has other priorities that take precedence."
The Trump administration said it was challenging Canadian quotas on dairy imports as unfair to U.S. milk producers. The challenge, announced on Wednesday, was the first under the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.
American farmers were dogged supporters of President Trump's trade war with China, accepting as "patriot farmers" the pain of retaliatory tariffs in the belief Beijing would be forced to alter its trade practices. But they are becoming skeptical of victory: Only half of them believe the trade war will be resolved to their benefit and even fewer believe China will meet its "phase one" commitments negotiated with the Trump administration.
With expectations that the coronavirus will eventually recede, U.S. farm exports will catapult to a near-record $152 billion during the fiscal year that started on Oct. 1, said the USDA on Monday. China was forecast to import a record $27 billion in fiscal 2021, ending the agricultural …
World leaders must remain vigilant to keep food trade flowing during the pandemic and to continue using trade as a lever to improve farm income and productivity, said the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on Sunday. Speaking during the Group of 20 summit held online, director general Qu Dongyu said, "It is essential for the G20 to keep working on preventing this health crisis from becoming a global food crisis."
Partly because food is indispensable, agricultural trade has been remarkably robust despite the disruptions of the pandemic, said Ohio State professor Ian Sheldon during the university's annual agricultural outlook conference. Inventories of key staples are at high levels worldwide so "there's no reason why a health crisis turns into a global food crisis," he said.
A resurgent U.S. economy will grow at its fastest pace in two decades after this year's coronavirus slowdown, helping to boost commodity prices almost across the board, said the USDA in its first projections for 2021. Growers will harvest a record-large crop of soybeans and the crop will sell for an average $10 a bushel for the first time in seven years, thanks to strong demand.