Agriculture Hopes Biden Team Honors China Phase I Deal

China has been a boon to U.S. farm commodity prices in recent months. Now, Agriculture is hoping the Biden Ag and trade teams follow through and preserve the Trump Phase I deal and consider a Phase II agreement.

American Farm Bureau trade adviser Dave Salmonsen says the Biden transition team was already addressing the China Phase I deal before Inauguration Day. “A lot of desire to move away from the tariffs that were put on China. And the answer has been, they’ll evaluate all of that, they’ll evaluate the Phase I agreement going forward, the tariffs. So, there’s a lot of talk, things will stay pretty much, the same with China, maybe, different tactics.”

But Salmonsen says, so far, the deal obtained with tariff pressure, and despite tensions with China on other fronts, has helped U.S. agriculture, after years of low commodity prices and now, the continuing pandemic. “We’ve seen, especially this fall, the sharply increased sales for a variety of products to China, and the effect on prices that farmers receive. So, we want to see the Phase I commitments for purchases that run through 2021, we want to see those completed.”

With purchases of corn, soybeans and other goods hitting $23 billion before December’s tally’s complete, versus a first-year target of some 34-billion.

Domestically, ethanol remains a huge driver of corn prices, and the industry scored a swift legal win against the Trump EPA, securing a temporary stay of three last-minute waivers to small oil refiners. The D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals order blocks further EPA action pending responses and further court review.