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China nearly doubles 2017 subsidy for farmers to rotate crops

By Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu

BEIJING, June 20 (Reuters) - China will spend almost twice as much this year on subsidies to encourage farmers in the northeast to reduce corn plantings as it intensifies its push to rebalance grain stocks.

The country will issue 2.56 billion yuan ($374.95 million) in funds to pay farmers subsidies to rotate their corn plantings with other crops every other year as well as to leave some land fallow, the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday.

The funds are 78 percent higher than last year, and the acreage targeted by the subsidies is double last year's area at around 800,000 hectares.

China started giving out the subsidies last year under an overhaul of its grains policy under which it had paid farmers artificially high prices for their corn.

That policy left it with a stockpile of 250 million tonnes of corn, more than one year's worth of consumption.

The money will go mainly to farmers in the northeast where soybeans had been planted in the past and to areas unsuited to corn production.

The area covered under the subsidies includes 667,000 hectares where growers must rotate between corn and other crops like soybeans and 133,000 hectares that must lie fallow.

The area targeted for the rotation subsidy represents 1.9 percent of the 35.4 million hectares planted with corn this year.

Farmers also get 'producer' subsidies for major crops, and some provinces plan to offer higher subsidies for soybeans than corn this year

($1 = 6.8276 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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