US corn farmer asking for trade, not aid, to recover from ripple effects of China trade war

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After receiving over $23 billion in federal aid from the Trump administration following the ripple effects of the United States’ trade war with China, Crown Point, Indiana corn farmer E.J. Hein says the farming industry needs fair trade, not aid, in order to move forward.

“We want a demand for our product,” Hein told FOX Business’ Jeff Flock. “We would like to grow a crop, get a fair price for it. We don’t want government help.”

Hein noted that, while the trade war initially slammed business, China is now the United States’ “biggest customer” for crops like corn and soybeans.

Agricultural exports to China rose to 55.5 million tons in 2020 and comprised one-quarter of all farm shipments, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

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Corn farmers aren’t the only ones in the farming industry urging the government to focus on fair trade.

Texas cattle rancher Kimberly Racliff told the Wall Street Journal that without fair trade, farmers are “not going to to get the full value of what we’re selling.”

Paul Fribourg, CEO of agricultural investment firm Continental Grain Co., told the Journal that the U.S.-China relationship is the food industry’s single biggest challenge.

“The last four years, China perceived us as the enemy. That’s a mistake, ” Fribourg said. “If we aren’t seen as reliable, that will destroy one of our biggest competitive advantages.”

Megan Dwyer, a farmer in northwestern Illinois, added that rebuilding U.S. infrastructure, including locks and dams along the Mississippi and other rivers, would help the push to sell more farm goods abroad.

“To get those places, we need infrastructure,” Dwyer told the Journal.

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The USDA forecasts farmers will plant as much as 182 million acres worth of corn and soybeans, topping the previous record of 180.3 million in 2017.Corn and soybean plantings are expected to hit 92 million acres and 90 million acres respectively, while wheat plantings are expected to hit 45 million acres in 2021.

On Tuesday, the USDA released its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, which said U.S. 2020/2021 soybean ending stocks were 120 million bushels, down 405 million from last year’s record.  The USDA projects a season-average farm price of $11.15 per bushel, unchanged from last month. Meanwhile, corn’s projected season-average farm price is also unchanged from last month at $4.30 per bushel.

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