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China Expects A Record Corn Harvest, But Midwest Farmers Need Not Worry

Jonathan Ahl
Harvest Public Media
Corn like this in a northern Missouri field may still find a robust market in China, despite that country's bumper crop.

China’s corn output this year is expected to be a record for the country, but that won’t have a noticeable effect on Midwestern farmers.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, China will produce 273 million metric tons, up 5 percent from last year and the biggest corn harvest ever. 

But Midwest corn producers aren’t worried.

“It’s a fairly small percentage increase. And whenever you look at China’s expected percentage use of increase in feed grains, it really negates that and makes that even smaller”, said Bradley Schad, CEO of the Missouri Corngrowers Association. 

China’s rapid increase in corn demand is fueled by its pork industry and its efforts to eradicate African swine fever among pigs. Specifically, the country outlawed feeding restaurant scraps to hogs, so farmers began using more corn. 

China increased its capacity to grow corn in response. 

“I would expect that increase in Chinese production to drop the Chinese domestic price a little bit,” said Collin Watters, director of exports and logistics with the Illinois Corngrowers Association. “I still think they are going to be in the market for world corn going forward.”

Part of that market could stem from efforts to rebuild China’s strategic stockpile of grain, which the country has drawn down in recent years.

“I think there’s probably a compelling argument to be made that those strategic reserves should be replenished,” Watters said. “That may also contribute to imports.”

Watters says last year China imported more than 21 million metric tons of corn from the United States. In the marketing year that started September 1, 2021, China has already booked the purchase of 12 million metric tons of corn, and experts expect that number to go up by at least 5 million tons by the end of the year.

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Jonathan Ahl
Jonathan Ahl reports from Missouri for Harvest Public Media. He also is the Rolla Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. Before coming to St. Louis Public Radio in November of 2018, Jonathan was the General Manager for Tri States Public Radio in Macomb, Illinois. He previously was the News Director at Iowa Public Radio and before that at WCBU in Peoria, Illinois. Jonathan has also held reporting positions in central Illinois for public radio stations. Jonathan is originally from the Chicago area. He has a B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from Western Illinois University and an M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is an avid long distance runner, semi-professional saxophonist and die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.