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)
U.S. farmers will harvest their largest corn crop ever this year, fueled by the largest plantings since 2013 — growing so much corn that carry-over stocks will be the largest in more than three decades, according to USDA's projection at its annual Ag Outlook Forum. The soybean crop would be the fourth-largest on record, with exports recovering to pre-trade-war levels thanks to "increasing global import demand, particularly for China."