One of the United States’ largest buyers of grain sorghum has made its largest purchase since a 25 percent tariff was placed on U.S imports of the crop last July.
According to United States Department of Agriculture data Thursday, China purchased 2.6 million bushels of U.S. sorghum the week of Feb. 28 to March 7. The announcement was positive for sorghum farmers who were hit hard by the trade war between the U.S. and China.
“I think it’s a good sign for U.S. sorghum grower that China has come back into our market,” McPherson County farmer Adam Baldwin said. “I hope it is a good sign for trade negotiations as well.”
President Donald Trump suspended tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled to be implemented March 1, tweeting that the two sides had made progress.
While he said he hopes to see trade negotiations continue to improve, Baldwin said a smaller sorghum harvest in Australia may be the driving factor behind China’s recent purchase.
“Unfortunately I think it’s more likely a result of a short Australian sorghum crop that is priced very high going into China,” Baldwin said. “A short Aussie crop being a driving force for restarting U.S. sorghum imports makes sense because we have an ample supply now and will have another crop coming online before the next Australian sorghum harvest.”
China’s 2017 purchases made up 80 percent of U.S. sorghum exports. Most purchases were made in the months after the fall harvest.
Stockton, Kansas farmer and National Sorghum Producers Chairman Dan Atkisson said the news was encouraging for U.S. sorghum farmers.
“This vessel purchase is great news for U.S. sorghum, and we are thrilled to see it on the books going into the 2019 planting season as hopefully a first of many,” Atkisson said in a release. “We look forward to returning to trade with our largest export partner, and we are encouraged by not only this sale but the reported 2.2 million bushel sale to Spain, as well. We believe today’s news is a direct result of meetings between our two nations’ leaders, and we appreciate both administrations continuing to press forward to achieve a long-term agreement in U.S. and China trade relations.”
China uses grain sorghum for livestock feed as well as to make the Chinese liquor baijiu. Baldwin said a merchandiser who sells into the Chinese liquor market recently said she predicts it will be a big year for U.S. sorghum being sold into China.