U.S. grain farmers might have lasting market in China

An ag economist says U.S. grain producers have some ‘wiggle room’ to sell corn and soybeans into the Chinese market for at least the next few years.

CoBank Economist Kenneth Scott Zuckerberg tells Brownfield Chinese hog slaughter still has a long way to go to return to its pre-African Swine Fever levels of around 720 million head annually.

“It came down dramatically in ’19 and to the bottom in 2020 at 460 [million head],” he said. “So, we’re still below the pique level and importantly we’re still below the average of the seven or eight years prior to ASF.”

USDA estimates China’s 2021 hog slaughter to be around 520 million head. Zuckerberg said the trading partner’s hog herd has incentive to increase with China’s growing population.

“Recent news that the government is enacting policies to promote family expansion, I guess I step back, and I say to myself, ‘ok, who knows how many families will be three children verses one but the direction is up’,” he said.

Zuckerberg said U.S farmers will also see increased opportunity because Chinese meat protein consumption per person has nearly tripled in the last 40 years with pork being the top source.

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