Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Chinese Purchases of U.S. Ag Products Help to Boost Market Prices

News / Newsline January 28, 2021

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China purchased near record levels of U.S. farm products last year and that pace continues so far in 2021. Micheal Clements shares what that means for the prices farmers receive for their crop.

Clements: New trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows China purchased a potential new record of U.S. agricultural products in 2020, according to American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist John Newton.

Newton: For calendar year 2020, China bought slightly more than $27 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products, which is likely a new record high in terms of exports to China.

Clements: Newton says China has already made large purchases of U.S. corn and soybeans in the 2021 marketing year.

Newton: China’s been a very big player in the corn and soybean markets this year. So far, they’ve bought nearly six million metric tons of corn, they’re on the books for more than 11 million metric tons of corn to purchase from the United States, which would be a record. On the soybean side, we’ve seen China buy more than 31 million metric tons of soybeans already, and they still have on the books nearly four million metric tons, so they’ve been a big player in the corn and soybean markets this year.

Clements: Newton says the increased trade with China has bolstered market prices for corn and soybeans in the United States.

Newton: I think what we’ve seen is since China’s been such a heavy player in the market, it’s helped to reduce our stockpiles this year and as a result we’ve seen prices move sharply higher in the last few months. Corn is now sitting at around $5.30, soybeans sitting around $13.50, and that’s up 50-60 percent from where we were back in early August. And a lot of that is on the back of strong trade and export demand.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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