China is an important, growing market for IL Corn and corn in other forms like ethanol, DDGS, and meat. In fact, China is the fifth largest market of global buyers of U.S. coarse grains, co-products, ethanol and meat products, a place they’ve maintained year over year, even with a nearly 18% loss in exports due to the ongoing trade war. U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expressed worry about our agricultural trade with China recently during a visit to Kansas. “I’m concerned that we may have grown too dependent on a major customer there,” Perdue said, adding that China may not have our national interests in mind. Illinois Corn Marketing Board Chairman Don Duvall believes that working with our Chinese customers is a must-do for IL Corn, saying, “We understand that there are some challenges with the Chinese market in the larger scheme of things, but we believe that it is a market that deserves our attention and we intend to continue building our relationships between Illinois corn farmers and Chinese buyers."
IL Corn believes that improving and growing our trading relationship with China is a vital component of corn farmer profitability in Illinois. That’s why we partner with the U.S. Grains Council, leveraging corn farmers’ checkoff dollars to build this key market. In fact, in early September, a vice minister of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Han Jun, traveled to the Eastern Shore of Maryland as part of a delegation visiting the United States to consult with the U.S. agricultural industry on the current economic and trade situation and express optimism that tensions could be resolved in the months ahead.
The Council has worked with the vice minister for more than 10 years in addition to other Chinese officials. Wei Zhenglin, counselor at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C., spoke at the Council’s membership meeting in July about the status and future of the U.S.-China agricultural and trade relationship.
The delegation visited a corn field and viewed a farmer’s machinery, followed by a discussion with the host-farmer at his warehouse. The team was impressed by the successful combination of conservation, precision farming, biotechnology and risk management he uses in his operation as well as how local farmers utilize consultants to analyze production data and recommend which varieties to plant each year.
“Activities like this delegation demonstrate the Council’s commitment to an ongoing conversation between our two nations,” said Tom Sleight, USGC president, and chief executive officer. “China is a major, complex market, and the U.S.-Chinese relationship is critical. While trade relations with China remain challenging, the Council is still engaging, talking and working in the market – as the organization has for 35 years.”