Last week, in its monthly Grain: World Markets and Trade report, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) explained that, “Trade data for 2019/20 (October-September) are largely complete. Many countries imported record volumes of corn, despite initial concerns over a potential slowdown in feed use due to COVID-19. For 2020/21, global trade for major feed grains is forecast to grow significantly from a year ago.
Corn imports are forecast to grow 7 percent from last year’s record, while barley imports are expected to grow 6 percent. Sorghum imports are estimated up 53 percent.
The FAS report pointed out that, “China’s corn imports are currently forecast to more than double from last year.”
“Barley imports are forecast to be larger than a year ago as China steps up purchases from Canada, France, and Ukraine, while imposing antidumping and countervailing duties on barley from Australia. For sorghum, global trade is forecast higher on China’s growing need for supplies from the United States and to a lesser extent Argentina,” the report said.
FAS added that, “With domestic corn prices continuing to run at near-record levels, China is expected to be a key player in global trade for corn as well as corn substitutes. Given China’s outsized impact on global commodity markets and as its import needs unfold into 2020/21, coarse grain trade is expected to be dynamic.”
With respect to Chinese pork production, a key feed grain import demand variable, Bloomberg News reported last week that, “If farmers can control African swine fever over the winter, China’s own production may increase at least 10% from this year’s levels, with a full recovery in pig numbers due in 2023 or 2024, said [Pan Chenjun, a senior livestock analyst with Rabobank]. Record breeding profits have triggered an aggressive expansion in farms large and small this year, although domestic pork prices may remain elevated in 2021, she said.”
And in news on Chinese domestic corn production, Reuters writer Dominique Patton reported last week that, “China produced 260.67 million tonnes of corn in 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday, barely changed from last year despite weather damage before the harvest in the world’s second biggest producer.”
Nonetheless, the article stated that, “Some analysts, however, doubted the corn numbers.
“‘It seems too high. The sown area is pretty much exactly the same as last year and so is the yield. But the northeast was hit with three typhoons in a row,’ said Darin Friedrichs, a senior Asia commodity analyst at StoneX.”
“Output was probably down about 5 million tonnes, estimated Meng Jinhui, analyst at Shengda Futures, because of the challenging weather conditions during the year,” the Reuters article said.
Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily FarmPolicy.com News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.
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