many years as a significant export competitor in Asian markets, China has
recently emerged as a net corn importer, and most analysts expect Chinese
imports to rise in the near term. The speed and scale of this shift - and the
potential of Chinese efforts to ramp up production - are major uncertainties for
corn producers and traders around the world.
and other questions in the Chinese grain belt were explored last week by a U.S.
Grains Council survey team which got a firsthand look at the rapid progress of
Chinese agriculture racing to meet surging domestic demand.
Corn Commission communications specialist, DeEtta Bohling of Ottawa, Kan.,
returned Saturday from China, where she surveyed the corn growing conditions and
studied the Chinese government policies that affect acreage, marketing and
demand. Bohling joined participants from six other states on the 2011 U.S.
Grains Council (UCGC) Corn Tour which met with farmers, traders and provincial
officials in the northeastern China provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin, both
major corn producing areas.
and government storage facilities are prevalent throughout both provinces.
Farmers have sold most of their production at harvest. Private facilities have
low inventories held for private traders. Speculation is that government storage
of corn is at low levels but there is no effective way to measure it," said
and Jilin provinces each produced 22 million metric tons (866 million bushels)
of corn in 2010. Roughly half of the harvest was consumed locally. The remainder
was sold and shipped to southern provinces where there is higher population
density and feed consumption.
planting acreage for 2011 is expected to generally increase marginally as
farmers experienced good prices in 2010 with increased demand. While some
increased corn acres have come from wheat and soybean acreage, there is also
increased competition for fruits and vegetables, particularly near urban areas.
Some land was unplanted and attributed to increased urban
continues to balance many contending factors such as modern technology,
information technology, increasing mechanization and the aging agricultural
labor force. There is a vast exodus of young people to the city. We witnessed
land loss due to urbanization," said Floyd Gaibler, USGC director of trade
policy, who accompanied the group.
both Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces, emergence is behind normal levels due to
rainy weather and low temperatures. The team also observed that germination was
spotty in some locations with skipped spaces and an occurrence of hand
in China, the seven-member delegation also met with several corn farmers, trade
partners and end-users. The group visited grain storage facilities including
Heilongjiang Zhaodong Xiangyang Grain Storage and Sinograins storage facility.
Visits were also made to COFCO Bio-Energy Co., Ltd., an industrial processor;
Jilin Fuyu Xian Fu Guo Grains Trading Co.; Jilin Henong Animal Husbandry Group
Co., Ltd., the largest commercial feed company in Northeast China; and the
Heilongjiang Shuangcheng Modern Agricultural Science and Technology
Demonstration Field. The delegation also had the opportunity to speak with
farmers who run small hog farm operations, using a modern corn-soy ration for
prices are at historically high levels in both provinces. Backyard feed hog
feeding is declining and feeding operations are increasing in size. High corn
prices are affecting profits. There are concerns of new foot and mouth disease
variants and could lower demand for soybean meal and corn," reported
members of the mission included Gary Schmalshof from the Illinois Corn Marketing
Board; Dick Gallagher of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board; Ken Kindler from Dow
AgroSciences LLC; Tom Gillis from the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board; Dennis
Gengenbach from the Nebraska Corn Board; and Lori Feltis of the Minnesota Corn
Research and Promotion Council. The delegation was escorted by Council staff
Dick Kasting, director of strategic relations, and Floyd Gaibler, director of