While the United States and China have been long-term economic partners, with both nations engaged in mutually beneficially agricultural trade, recent livestock trade decisions could undermine American agricultural trade.
American farmers and American agricultural production have been long-term staples of American overseas trade, contributing billions of dollars to U.S. trade revenue. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the U.S., and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s reciprocal visit, helped cement trade ties, particularly regarding major commodities like soybeans.
In addition to commodities, American livestock has been in high demand in Chinese markets. With a rapidly developing Chinese middle class demanding more meat products (with consumption increasing ten percent from five years ago), Chinese production has been strained, requiring increased importation of American livestock.
In addition to exporting animals themselves, American producers have tapped into a lucrative market in trading genetic material. In 2011, the United States exported more than $660 million worth of breeding stock and reproductive material.
Some farmers, however, are worried that these exports will undermine American trade down the road. Chinese efficiency had tended to rely on importing innovative technologies, learning the appropriate best practices, and applying them domestically at a lower price.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer