Poker Face

Jun 15, 2021

Ever consider playing poker blindfolded?

That’s essentially how trading agricultural goods with China works.

The country of over 1.3 billion people has been doing its best to hold its ag industry cards close to its chest.

Consider the handling of its rebound from African Swine Fever.

Nine months ago China stated they were well down the road to recovery, and the country’s pork production was buzzing right along again. Then, 2020 saw China import more pork than ever before.

Sounds like someone was bluffing.

Some economists argue that’s exactly what was going on. Theories suggest China might have withheld the true state of their swine herd so they could purchase almost a billion bushels of corn at lower prices.

But signs do point to their swine herd actually growing again. That giant pile of corn they’ve been snapping up in recent weeks has to be going somewhere. The country’s been importing so much that ships have had to wait up to a month to dock and unload.

Worth noting: The USDA has estimated that China will import 26 million metric tons of corn this year, but some in the industry think that number will continue to grow.

Time will tell because China probably won’t.