Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / World / China-US

Report: More ag collaboration needed

By MAY ZHOU in Houston | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-09-16 10:30
Share - WeChat
FILE PHOTO: Farmer Isabel Milligan drives a tractor as she weeds and transplants crops on the farm in Amagansett, New York, US, July 11, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

More US-China cooperation in agriculture is needed to achieve goals that are of strategic importance for both countries, according to a newly published report by the US Heartland China Association and the Carter Center.

Titled "Finding Firmer Ground: The Role of Agricultural Cooperation in US-China Relations", the report said that by working together, the United States and China can help improve global food security, meet China's demand for food quality, address climate change and pursue technological advancement.

The report pointed out that 39 countries, most of which are in Africa and South Asia, have alarming levels of hunger. Furthermore, natural disasters, disease outbreaks and human conflict may create short-term food insecurity.

"The United States and China are in the position to lead the effort in combating global hunger by increasing agricultural productivity and by promoting economic development in Africa and South Asia," stated the report.

China can benefit from a working relationship with the US to maintain access to high-quality protein products and feed due to limited land resources, it said, and by collaborating with China, the United States can secure a foothold in an expanding market for its agricultural products.

"As the two greatest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, the United States and China have the responsibility and ability to lead the international community to slow down climate change and mitigate its impacts," the report said.

The US Heartland China Association is a bipartisan organization committed to building stronger ties between 20 states in the US heartland and China. The Carter Center is a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization founded in 1982 by former US president Jimmy Carter.

Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China quickly became one of the United States' most important trading partners in agriculture. In a swift and powerful shift, China's share of US agricultural exports has increased from 2 percent in 2000 to roughly 16 percent in 2014.

The trade was disrupted, and volume dropped dramatically from 2018 to 2019 due to the US-initiated trade war. However, the sales climbed to 17.6 percent in 2020, and China ranked first among all US agricultural export markets with sales of $26.4 billion, representing an increase of $12.6 billion over 2019.

From China's perspective, the US ranks No. 2 in agricultural imports with 15 percent market share after Brazil, with 22 percent market share.

While growing mutual mistrust and hostility have driven the bilateral relationship to a low point, a recent Ag Barometer survey by Purdue University and CME Group showed that 92 percent of those farmer respondents agreed or strongly agreed that it is important for the United States to maintain a healthy economic relationship with China. Despite that, they also showed increasing pessimism about an increase in US agricultural exports over the next five years.

The report proposed ways to improve collaboration between the US and China. The suggestions include resuming and enhancing high-level agricultural talks, reducing tariffs and other trade barriers, building infrastructure to strengthen international and domestic supply chains, and increase research-collaboration and education-exchange.

In the foreword to the report, Kenneth Quinn, president emeritus at the World Food Prize Foundation, recalled his involvement in US-China agriculture exchanges beginning in 1980, when he escorted Governor Xi Zhongxun of Guangdong to Iowa Governor Robert Ray's office, Iowa State University and the Amana Colonies, seven villages in Iowa.

In 2004, Quinn presided at a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol at which Dr Norman Borlaug presented the World Food Prize to Professor Yuan Longping, the "Father of Hybrid Rice" and one of the most significant agricultural scientists in the history of China.

In 2012, as president of the World Food Prize, Quinn hosted the US-China High Level Agricultural Symposium in Des Moines, at which President Xi Jinping, who at the time was vice-president, the son of Xi Zhongxun, delivered the keynote address.

"In my view, that February 2012 visit to Iowa by President Xi Jinping represents the high point in the US-China agricultural relationship since the establishment of diplomatic relations," Quinn said.

Quinn said he was disappointed at having "watched as a succession of irritants, disagreements and adversity diminished the friendly spirit that had previously been so prevalent".

Believing that agricultural cooperation is the most likely route to reversing that downward trend, he proposed and helped organize a high-level bilateral Agriculture Roundtable in April this year. The report was from ideas generated at the discussion.

The American heartland shares a deeply rooted and unique history with China, said Bob Holden, former governor of Missouri and president of the US Heartland China Association. "There exists great potential for economic and agricultural achievements as our two nations work together to find solutions to the world's most pressing issues," he said.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349