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Farm bureaus warn of loss of China business

By BELINDA ROBINSON in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-08-07 13:16
[Photo/IC]

Ministry of Commerce announces China to cease imports of all US agricultural products

China has announced that it will stop buying all US agricultural products amid growing trade tensions, a move that will hit American farmers hard, US farm bureaus are warning.

China's Ministry of Commerce made the announcement on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump threatened to impose a further 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods starting Sept 1. This would be in addition to the existing 25 percent tariff s on $250 billion of Chinese imports.

It also announced that it may impose additional tariff s on US farm products, in a move that will hurt struggling American farmers, warns Peter Furey, executive director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau.

"Both sides are feeling the pain, and unfortunately, American farmers are bearing the brunt of the adverseeffects," Furey told China Daily. "However a return to normalcy can be achieved, we would certainly like that expedited."

China is the world's top buyer of soybeans. The country has purchased 14.3 million tons of last season's soybean crop, the smallest amount in just over a decade, Reuters reported. At least 3.7 million tons still need to be shipped. In comparison, China had bought 32.9 million tons of US soybeans in 2017 before the trade dispute.

The latest escalation in tensions came after US President Donald Trump said last week that Beijing had not made good on its promise to buy large amounts of American farm goods. He then threatened to slap the new tariff of 10 percent on Chinese goods.

An official from China's National Development and Reform Commission hit back, calling Trump's accusations that China had not purchased enough "groundless", broadcaster CCTV reported.

China's decision to limit US agriculture imports will have a dire impact

on farmers and deliver a "body blow to the thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by", Zippy Duvall, from the American Farm Bureau told Reuters. Larry Kudlow, Trump's chief economic adviser, said farmers would be given assistance. Trump has already compensated farmers with a $28 billion aid package. Last week, the US Department of Agriculture signed up farmers for a program that will hand out $14.5 billion.

In that aid package, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the government will pay a minimum of $15 per acre to farmers hurt by the trade war with China under an aid package. American hog farmers also have suffered a loss of at least $1 billion in the ongoing trade war, Reuters reported. China increased its retaliatory tariff s on US pork in April 2018, and again in July 2019.

Rachel Gantz, communications director for the National Pork Producers

Council, told China Daily that China was one of its top five export markets. "We continue to reiterate the importance of ending the trade dispute with China so US pork producers can get back to competitive access and more fully participate in a historic sales opportunity."

Furey agreed, adding that most farmers just want things resolved:"Prior to the Trump administration initiating all of this, China was a very important, large market for American commodities, and American agriculture is an export-dependent industry. We produce far more commodities than our domestic economy can consume, and that says something because the American economy is so large.

"So, we depend on exports to balance supply and demand," he said."We had worked very hard to build that China market, and the Chinese and American commodity shippers were in a strong position with each other. … We would like to see a return to what we had achieved."

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