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US soybean farmers urge policymakers to keep food out of trade war

U.S farmers have asked policymakers not to involve food in a trade war with China, the American Soybean Association told Reuters on Friday, amid growing concerns that tensions between the two nations will dent already faltering agriculture trade.

“I have gone to Washington DC, Capitol Hill and I talk to our legislators, our senators and representatives, I always emphasise with them that this is about food … This is one area that we should keep it separate and keep it clean and not use it as a hammer,” Stan Born, American Soybean Association’s Chair of Trade Policy and International Affairs Advocacy said.

“We produce a surplus, China has a deficit, we can help each other,” he said on the sidelines of a U.S-China agriculture cooperation roundtable held in Shandong on Friday.

U.S President Joe Biden’s last month imposed steep tariffs on Chinese goods from syringes to batteries, raising concerns that it could further harm already shaky U.S. agriculture exports to China. Beijing has vowed retaliation, calling it “bullying”.

Ever since the trade war under the Trump administration, U.S. has significantly lost its market share in China with shipments of products such as soybeans, sorghum and pork getting hit.

American soybean and grains farmers at the event said they are engaging with Chinese buyers on opportunities to strengthen the trade relationship.

“This market is irreplaceable for us … there is no market like the China market, so we are here and we want to make sure our customers know that we will be here,” Adam Schindler, U.S. Grains Council Asia Advisory Team Leader said.

“We want you (China) to know you are important to us, we want you to know you are appreciated by the U.S. farmer,” he said.

The United States is dependent on China for its farm exports but cheaper supplies from Brazil and Argentina has curb its market share.

Macey Mueller, Board Director of the United Sorghum Checkoff Programme said while China remains important, the producer-funded organization is continuing its efforts to diversify markets and enable trade.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; editing by Naveen Thukral and David Evans)

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