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Virtual Town Hall underscores significance of Chinese market

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Agricultural stakeholders expressed interest in rebuilding their relationship with China, during a virtual town hall.

The Iowa Soybean Association, in conjunction with Farmers for Free Trade, hosted the first-ever AgTalks Virtual Town Hall. Kirk Leeds, Chief Executive Officer at the Iowa Soybean Association, says the conversation was designed to focus on trade, supply chains, and the future of American agriculture.

“This conversation is important as we think about the disruptions we’ve seen in agricultural trade with tariffs, retaliatory tariffs, decreasing our exports, pressing commodity prices, and increasing the prices of farm inputs,” Leeds said.

Furthermore, today’s conversation highlighted the importance of trade with China, as it pertains to U.S. agriculture. 

“The last few years have been extremely challenging for U.S. farmers,” shares Jim Sutter, chief executive officer at the U.S. Soybean Export Council. He adds, “They have stayed resilient and committed,” which is why his organization launched an initiative called “What It Takes.” 

“…what it takes to keep exports about unchanged from where they were the previous year. It was aimed at growing U.S. soy demand in non-China markets. Diversification of markets has been a primary focus for the U.S. soy industry, even before the China trade uncertainty.”

U.S. Soybean Export Council staff found “hope in emerging markets,” such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Egypt. However, the organization looks forward to resuming trade with China.

Similarly, other agriculture groups look forward to developing their relationship with China. Craig Willis, senior vice president of global markets at Growth Energy, says China holds great potential for ethanol.

“As far as opportunities go, China’s a big one,” says Willis. “It’s the second largest gasoline market in the world. For ethanol, it could be a needle mover. Back in 2017, they announced a policy to have E10 or 10-percent ethanol nationwide by 2020. They are not blending up to 10-percent yet, but they are continuing to move forward in different provinces and large metro areas. If they go to E10 nationwide, that would be 3.5 billion gallons of new ethanol demand, double the size of our best ethanol export year ever.”