A week after a House committee voted to prohibit China from purchasing U.S. agricultural land, the No. 3 House Republican leader cited national security concerns in spearheading legislation to block China from acquiring U.S. agricultural companies. The restrictions were proposed at the same time business groups sought removal of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, remnants of the Sino-U.S. trade war.
While pressing China to live up to its trade commitments, the United States will focus increasingly on how to defend its economic interests in dealing with an unreliable partner, said U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai. China and the United States are the two largest economies in the world and their overall relationship is "profoundly consequential," said Tai on the closing day of USDA's annual Outlook Forum.
Record-high expenses and sharply lower federal subsidies will erode farm income in 2022, according to a forecast by the Agriculture Department. Nonetheless, U.S. agriculture would see one of its best years on record, with net farm income 26 percent above its 10-year average.
The United States will press China to live up to its commitments in the "phase one" agreement, said U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai on Monday in unveiling the Biden administration's "strategic vision for re-aligning trade policies toward China." During a speech at a Washington think tank, Tai said agricultural trade was an "unpredictable sector" given Chinese willingness to intervene in the market.
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.
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.
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."
In a four-day shopping spree, importers bought 3.876 million tonnes of U.S. corn for delivery to China this marketing year, said the USDA. The corn was worth $850 million, based on futures prices in Chicago.
China bought a mammoth 5.85 tonnes of American-grown corn last week, including 2.108 million tonnes on the same day that the White House said the "phase one agreement" that de-escalated the trade war was under review. "The national security team, the newly confirmed secretary of state, President Biden are all reviewing all aspects of our national security approach, including certainly our relationship with China," said press secretary Jen Psaki.
Five weeks after saying he was hopeful China would import $36.6 billion of U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products this year, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is less certain the target will be met. A spate of sales to China during August and September has raised hopes in farm country that the goal, set in the "phase one" trade agreement, would be met despite a slow start.
With its new offer of $14 billion in coronavirus relief, the Trump administration could spend $50 billion — quadruple the cost of the auto industry bailout — in less than three years to buffer the impact of trade war and pandemic on agriculture. Farm groups welcomed the second round of coronavirus assistance while critics said it was "old-fashioned vote-buying" ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Rural America, and farmers in particular, voted overwhelmingly for President Trump in 2016 but have suffered rather than benefitted for it, said speakers on a "farmers and ranchers roundtable" organized by the Biden-Harris campaign. The forum, held 10 days ahead of the traditional fall campaign kickoff of Labor Day, criticized Trump for using agriculture as a pawn in the Sino-U.S. trade war and labeled him weak on ethanol.(No paywall)
The expected six-month review of the Sino-U.S. trade agreement failed to materialize on Saturday but President Trump expressed satisfaction with the increasing pace of farm export sales to China. During a news conference, Trump said, "China has been buying a lot of — a lot of things, and they're doing it to keep me happy but they're dreaming about Joe Biden."
President Trump declared Sino-U.S. relations "severely damaged" and said he has "many other things in mind" beyond following up on the interim agreement that de-escalated the trade war between the world's two largest economies. Trump spoke dismissively of new negotiations with China on Friday, hours after exporters reported the largest sale of U.S. corn to China in 26 years.
Throttled by pandemic, U.S. farm exports this year will barely exceed last year's totals, wiping out hopes of a speedy recovery from trade-war losses, said the USDA. Sales to China are rising but slower than projected when the "phase one" trade agreement with Beijing took effect in February, and far from the tripling necessary to satisfy the purchase levels specified in the pact.(No paywall)
When the Trump administration poured billions of dollars into rural America to mitigate the impact of trade war, "most of it bypassed the country's traditional small and medium-sized farms that were battered by the loss of their export market," said the CBS News program 60 Minutes on Sunday. It's just as likely big farmers will benefit in a big way when the USDA disburses $16 billion in coronavirus-relief cash to farmers and ranchers, said the program.
China recently stepped up its purchases of U.S. corn and cotton, said USDA chief economist Robert Johansson, but the coronavirus pandemic creates uncertainty about whether Beijing will meet its "phase one" purchase commitments. The agreement, signed on Jan. 15, calls on China to buy $40 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products this year and in 2021.(No paywall)
Six firms are seeing disruptions in the supply chain because of Covid-19 that could lead to shortages of animal drugs for the U.S. market, said the FDA in an update. Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA animal scientists are "looking for any kind of possibility, even vaccines, that may help" against the viral disease.