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Low prices, empty promises

(Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2002 -- CropChoice commentary) -- While reading the following story from last week's editon of Chinaonline, one should remember the promises of farm state politicians. Despite research to the contrary every time, they repeatedly have voted for so-called free trade deals, such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and, specifically relating to the following article, the implementation of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China, because they said it would be good for farmers.

While U.S. wheat exports and the prices that farmers are receiving for them are down, the picture appears hardier in China.

As a friend wrote recently, "the export-oriented, free trade, low price, anti-farm program PNTR advocates were wrong again."

And now Monsanto wants to plop genetically engineered wheat into the mix. That'll be a doozy of a market destructor.

(Chinaonline, 11/27/02) -- Some 5,000 tons of wheat exports to Indonesia left Lianyungang Port in Jiangsu province last week, the first time China had exported food wheat in over a decade.

The shipment was the first of the 91,600 tons of food wheat, which is for human consumption, China National Cereals, Oil & Foodstuffs Import & Export Corp. (COFCO) will export to Indonesia, New Zealand, Vietnam and the Philippines over the next five months, according to Hexun Caijing (Homeway Financial News).

China had been a net wheat importer since the mid 1990s and has exported small amounts of feed wheat.

All the 91,600 tons of wheat to be exported will come from Henan province, China’s largest wheat-growing region.

Major wheat producing countries have seen sharp drops in their production due to natural disasters this year, and COFCO has seized the opportunity to expand wheat exports. It has established wheat export bases in Henan, Heilongjiang and Jiangsu.

Grain dealers from Japan, Vietnam, Europe, New Zealand and Australia are in talks with COFCO for purchases of food and feed grain.