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Chinese Delegation to Visit U.S. Farms Next Week

In what may be an opening in the Sino-U.S. trade war, a group of Chinese officials will tour U.S. farms next week, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday. The visits will follow working-level discussions today between the nations in Washington to prepare for ministerial meetings in early October.

“They are in the market aggressively for pork,” Perdue told reporters, noting the devastating impact of African swine fever on Chinese pig herds and the country’s pork supply. China is also shopping for soybeans, he said, and may be interested in other commodities as well. Exporters reported a three-day burst of sales of $236 million worth of soybeans, ending on Tuesday.

Before the trade war intensified in July 2018, China was the largest customer for U.S. ag exports. Now it ranks fifth, with purchases just one-third of their previous volume.

Han Jun, vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs, will lead the delegation in visits to Bozeman, Montana, and Omaha, Nebraska, to meet farmers face-to-face, reported CNBC. “The visit could bring a welcome salve to farmers caught in the crosshairs of the trade war if it results in a reopening of the market.”

Perdue discussed the farm visits during a news conference to promote congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He was joined by former secretaries Tom Vilsack, Dan Glickman, and Jack Block in releasing a letter in support of the USMCA and signed by every agriculture secretary since the Reagan era. Exports account for 20¢ of each $1 in farm income. Canada and Mexico are the two largest markets for ag exports.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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