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China Aims for Modernized Farm Sector by 2035

Hundreds of millions of people are farmers in China, working small plots with low productivity rates. In the annual No. 1 Document that spells out the priorities of the Beijing government, Chinese leaders call for a rural revitalization over the coming two decades, including modernization of agriculture by 2035. Steps would include pooling of land into more efficient units that are internationally competitive. The document calls for creation of a domestic dairy industry and strengthening of the farm equipment industry.

The long-range document renews the goals, set in earlier versions, of investing in agriculture abroad and creation of large Chinese grain-trading and agricultural conglomerates, according to an unofficial translation. Rural revitalization would lead to larger exports of high-value specialty crops and boost China’s role in influencing international trading rules. 

China, the world’s most populous nation, has the largest agriculture sector in the world. A leading producer of wheat, rice, corn, and cotton, it is better known as an ag importer – the No. 1 U.S. export customer, for example. It is trying to shift toward higher-quality food for its rising urban population while boosting rural incomes and encouraging more sustainable use of its land.

The rural revitalization initiative was announced at nearly the same time China imposed stricter standards on imports of U.S. soybeans and announced an investigation into whether U.S. sorghum was being dumped on the Chinese market, battering U.S. cash markets. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the incident shows how sensitive commodity prices are to trade disruptions. “We think the sorghum issue will mollify over time.” He also says, in trade matters, “We can’t be responsible for China’s reaction. . . . We have to be ready for it.”  

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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