China’s impact on US agriculture is growing

The World Pork Expo is in Des Moines on June 6-8. While it is the major equipment and allied industry show for US producers, it is growing in importance to the international production community. Each year sees growth in the number of foreign visitors.

Foreign visitors come for a variety of reasons. Our Canadian neighbors attend because their production systems, methods and problems are similar to ours. In addition, there are many production links across the border, both for pigs and for allied support services. Technology transfer between the US and Canadian industry occurs daily and both countries have benefited.

The Chinese are increasing their presence at World Pork Expo. The first Chinese visitors were brought over by groups doing business in China, such as the American Soybean Association and US Feed Grains Council. As the Chinese industry modernizes, many US companies are bringing their Chinese partners over for a look at US production technology.

As you walk the trade show at Expo, another interesting foreign group are companies trying to sell to US producers. The Chinese are evident with such materials as woven wire flooring and other products that may compete with US made goods based on price, just as Chinese made clothing, TV’s, etc. compete with US goods in retailers such as WalMart.

Here in the Midwest, we’re aware of the Chinese every time they make a major purchase of feed grains. Their very large purchases of US corn and soybean are often market movers. US corn and soybean producers are aggressively pursuing this foreign market by sending pork, poultry and even aquatic production experts over there. The goal – increase use of feed grains for protein production.

Note that the goal isn’t to immediately or directly increase consumption of US grains although that is the long term goal. In most cases, as the Chinese increase consumption of both domestic and foreign feed grains, the world price rises due to the increase in demand which the Feed Grains Council and American Soybean Association view as a direct benefit to US members.

With the world’s second largest economy and along with India the world’s largest population, whatever China does in the way of domestic production impacts US agriculture in a big way.

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