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Walking Grain Off the Farm in China

After years of encouraging production, China has a huge corn surplus, so it’s turning to a time-honored tactic: walking the grain off the farm in the form of expanded hog, cattle, and dairy production. The Agriculture Ministry says it intends to vastly expand animal production in grain-producing northeastern China in the near term to create a market for grain and to boost farm income in the region.

The plan dovetails with the ongoing migration of hog production to western and northeastern China, away from the more populated coast, where environmental enforcement is becoming stricter. The government is also subsidizing corn processors who use state-owned stocks to produce starch, ethanol, and other corn by-products. The USDA attaché in Beijing says the plentiful old-crop supplies being auctioned by the state will reduce the market for imported corn in 2017-2018, although imports are competitively priced in South China.

The northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, and Inner Mongolia account for a quarter of Chinese grain production – but only a sliver of its meat and milk production. In a guideline, the Agriculture Ministry foresees creation of a meat, egg, and milk supply base in the northeast over the next several years.

This article was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, nonprofit news organization producing investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

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