An announcement of 756,000 metric tons (29.8 million bushels) of U.S. corn sold to China the week ending March 19, 2020, demonstrated follow through on commitments made in the U.S.-China Phase 1 agreement signed in January and provided much-needed positive demand news for U.S. farmers.
The single sale brought total sales of U.S. corn to China to more than 817,000 tons (nearly 32.2 million bushels) thus far in the 2019/2020 marketing year, based on weekly export figures reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA’s FAS). In addition to these sales to China, USDA reported 252,000 tons (9.9 million bushels) of sales for the week ending March 26 to unknown destinations, which are widely expected to go to China.
While these commitments are sales – meaning the grain has yet to be shipped overseas and could be subject to change – if realized, they would exceed marketing year-end corn exports to China for the last seven marketing years.
“China is buying corn again,” said Bryan Lohmar. “We already see exports greater than the past few years, and China typically buys much of its corn over the summer when its own supplies get tighter and domestic prices firm up.”
Together with substantial purchases of U.S. sorghum, these sales provide encouragement that U.S. farmers and agribusinesses are seeing results from the Phase 1 agreement with China. That agreement also promised structural changes that should provide U.S. grain products improved access to the Chinese market over the long term.
China is the world’s second largest corn producer and consumer behind the United States and, in the past, was the world’s largest importer of U.S. sorghum and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS). These feed ingredients supply the world’s largest swine, aquaculture and egg industries, the second largest poultry industry and growing dairy and beef operations.
For more than 35 years, the Council has worked to help customers and other stakeholders in China improve their operations and advance China’s food security, safety and agricultural sustainability through trade. USGC staff continues to regularly interact with Chinese importers even while the global outbreak of COVID-19 has required the Council’s international staff – including those working in China – to shift to remote work status and adhere to each country’s restrictions.
“The Council and its members have worked for more than three decades to help partners in China develop their feed and livestock operations,” Lohmar said. “Demand for corn and sorghum in China will continue to grow in coming years – with the United States able to supply those needs as trade relations allow.”
On Friday, April 3 – after story publication – private exporters reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture additional export sales of 567,000 metric tons of corn for delivery to China. Of the total, 63,000 metric tons is for delivery during the 2019/2020 marketing year and 504,000 metric tons is for delivery during the 2020/2021 marketing year. Learn more here.
About The U.S. Grains Council
The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol. With full-time presence in 28 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability. Detailed information about the Council and its programs is online at www.grains.org.