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The Rural Blog: China has apparently stopped buying U.S. soybeans, a move that will hurt farmers

“Chinese importers have canceled purchases of corn and cut orders for pork,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Chinese importers’ new orders of sorghum, a grain used in animal feed, have dwindled while cancellations increased. . . . Livestock operations and food processors in China typically switch their soybean purchasing from the U.S. to Brazil and Argentina in the North American springtime, as South American farmers harvest crops and their beans become cheaper. But analysts say China’s reluctance to put on advance orders for U.S. crops indicates growing worries that tariffs will leave importers facing losses on each shipment.”

China has apparently stopped buying U.S. soybeans, escalating the trade war, according to Bunge Ltd., the world’s largest oilseed producer.

“Whatever they’re buying is non-U.S.,” Bunge CEO Soren Schroder told Mario Parker of Bloomberg. “They’re buying beans in Canada, in Brazil, mostly Brazil, but very definitely not buying anything from the U.S.”

Schroder said it was “very clear” that the trade war had triggered China’s actions, but said he didn’t know how long it would last.

In early April, China announced a 25 percent tariff on American soybeans but did not announce when it would take effect. In mid-April, it canceled orders for a net 62,690 metric tons of U.S. soybeans. South American countries are typically the leading global exporters of soybeans in the late spring and early- to mid-summer; the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Brazil’s lead is expected to set a record in the 2017-18 season as it sells 73.1 million tons abroad versus the U.S.’s 56.2 million.

China’s latest move will likely hurt U.S. soybean farmers, who are planting more soybeans than corn this year for the first time in decades.

China is the U.S.’s biggest customer for soybeans.

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The Rural Blog is a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see www.RuralJournalism.org.

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