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China Expands Farmland in Food Security Push, as U.S. Corn, Soybean Conditions Improve

Earlier this week, Financial Times writer Sun Yu reported that, “In the western Chinese city of Chengdu, once popular hotpot restaurant Star Shining in the Clouds has closed its doors for the last time, one of several businesses to shut as the government tries to increase the amount of land under cultivation.

“China expands farmland in bid to cut foreign food reliance,” by Sun Yu. The Financial Times (August 13, 2023).

“Local authorities have taken over 6,700 hectares in Chengdu alone, closing multiple companies, as part of a bigger nationwide push to plant corn and soyabean to boost food security.”

“China expands farmland in bid to cut foreign food reliance,” by Sun Yu. The Financial Times (August 13, 2023).

The FT article stated that,

Across the country, authorities have reclaimed more than 170,000 hectares since 2021 as Beijing tries to reduce its reliance on imported food amid fears confrontation between China and the US could disrupt global supply chains.

“In a speech last year, China’s president Xi Jinping said authorities must take ‘hard measures that grow teeth’ to maintain 120mn hectares of cultivated land across the country — the level widely seen by Beijing as necessary to secure self-sufficiency.”

In its monthly Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade report on Friday, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) indicated that, “This month, USDA raised 2022/23 (Oct-Sep) China soybean imports to a new record of 100.0 million tons.”  (Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade. USDA- Foreign Agricultural Service (August 11, 2023)).

Meanwhile, Reuters writer Julie Ingwersen reported yesterday that, “Weekly condition ratings for the U.S. soybean and corn crops improved in the past week more than analysts expected, U.S. government data showed on Monday.

2023 Crop Progress and Conditions. Charts and Maps. USDA- National Agricultural Statistics Service (August 14, 2023).

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) weekly crop progress report rated 59% of the corn crop as good to excellent, up from 57% a week ago, while 11 analysts surveyed by Reuters on average had expected an improvement of 1 percentage point.”

2023 Crop Progress and Conditions. Charts and Maps. USDA- National Agricultural Statistics Service (August 14, 2023).

The Reuters article added that, “The USDA also rated 59% of the soybean crop as good to excellent, a jump from 54% last week. The figure topped a range of analyst estimates.

Beneficial rains in recent weeks have eased drought conditions in portions of the Midwest crop belt.

“The share of U.S. corn production located in a drought area fell to 49% by Aug. 8, from 57% in the prior week. A year earlier, only 28% of the crop was located in an area experiencing drought, according to the USDA.

Reuters writer Naveen Thukral reported today that, “Chicago corn and soybean futures slid on Tuesday after a weekly report from the U.S. government showed better-than-expected conditions for both crops.”

Elsewhere, Bloomberg writer Ben Sharples reported today that, “Wheat dropped for a third day as grain exports continued from Russia and Ukraine even as tensions remain in the Black Sea region.

“Wheat Falls for Third Day as Black Sea Shipments Continue,” by Ben Sharples. Bloomberg News (August 15, 2023).

“Benchmark futures in Chicago traded near $6.365 a bushel after sliding 1.9% on Monday. Russia opened fire on a ship over the weekend to force the vessel to stop for checks, a continuation of hostilities in the key trade route after Ukrainian drones attacked Russian vessels earlier this month.”

New York Times writers Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Jenny Gross and Christiaan Triebert reported in today’s paper that, “The Russian military’s decision to fire warning shots and board a freighter in the Black Sea this weekend has added a new level of uncertainty to the increasingly intense maritime theater of war, as Moscow, apparently for the first time, made good on its threat to treat Ukraine-bound civilian shipping as potentially hostile.”

The Times article noted that, “It remains to be seen how the boarding of the ship might affect the flow of grain by sea from Ukraine, but some shipping industry analysts and executives said they did not think the episode would greatly affect a trade that had already been constricted by a virtual Russian blockade to a small fraction of its usual volume.

But it reflects the rising tensions on the Black Sea, which Western analysts have warned could escalate into violence involving countries not directly involved in the war. Russia’s warning last month about treating third-country shipping as hostile raised fears of armed clashes, and since then, Ukraine’s increasingly robust naval drone force has launched several attacks on Russian warships.”

And Reuters News reported yesterday that, “Romania aims to double the monthly transit capacity of Ukrainian grain to its flagship Black Sea port of Constanta to 4 million tonnes in the coming months, particularly via the Danube river, Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu said.”

Keith Good Photo

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 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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