Inkstone
    May
    23
    2018
    May
    23
    2018
    Ignore the US and grow more soybeans, China tells farmers
    Ignore the US and grow more soybeans, China tells farmers
    BUSINESS

    Ignore the US and grow more soybeans, China tells farmers

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    Photo: AP
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    China has told its farmers to grow more soybeans, even though it has agreed to buy more agricultural products from the US after the two countries declared a truce in their nascent trade spat.

    But it might be too early for Donald Trump to take the credit, who called the the promise from Beijing “one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years.”

    Earlier, China had threatened to impose 25 percent tariffs on US soybeans. To the Trump administration, soybean exports are particularly important. They make up around two-thirds of the nation’s agricultural exports to China, and the Farm Belt is a strong base of support for the president.

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    China needs soybeans to support its livestock industry.
    China needs soybeans to support its livestock industry. Photo: AFP

    The order

    Farmers in China’s major soybean growing regions, including the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin, were told at the end of April to increase the amount of land dedicated to soybeans.

    According to an urgent notice issued by the agricultural authority in Changchun, the provincial capital of Jilin, all districts and towns must make every possible effort to increase the area of soybean planting as a “political priority” and provide daily feedback about soybean plantation after April 29.

    Apart from boosting domestic production, China is also looking to import more soybeans from other countries such as Brazil and Ukraine.
    Apart from boosting domestic production, China is also looking to import more soybeans from other countries such as Brazil and Ukraine. Photo: Reuters

    Authorities in Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia have issued similar directives, calling upon farmers to grow more soybeans.

    A farmer surnamed Zhao from Huachuan in Heilongjiang told the South China Morning Post last week that farmers in his town were answering the government calls and the plantation area this year was about a third bigger than last year’s.

    “We also care about international news,” said Zhao.

    “Why we must eat US soybeans but not the ones planted by ourselves?”

    China currently imports about seven times more soybeans than it produces domestically. The impact of large-scale imports from the US and South America on the market means China has to subsidize its farmers, granting about $465 in subsidies to farmers for every hectare of soybeans grown.

    China’s agriculture ministry said last week that China plans to boost its soybean plantations to about 8.5 million hectares, an increase of about 700,000 hectares on last year.

    Orange Wang
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    Orange in a contributor to Inkstone. He covers the Chinese macroeconomy for the South China Morning Post.
    Orange Wang
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    Orange in a contributor to Inkstone. He covers the Chinese macroeconomy for the South China Morning Post.
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