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U.S. barley gains access to China

U.S. Grains Council will work with Chinese officials to develop requirements for fumigation and industry best practices.

U.S. barley can now be exported to China following the approval of a phytosanitary protocol by both countries -- a market development achievement years in the making that was finally accomplished with a boost from the U.S.-China Phase 1 deal signed in January.

The notice on China’s customs website was posted last Thursday and confirmed to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). In the coming weeks, APHIS and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) will now work with Chinese officials to develop fumigation and industry best practices requirements, and the council and barley industry will work to ensure that potential exporters meet administrative requirements to sell to China.

“We are pleased to see China making strides to uphold their purchasing commitments under its Phase 1 agreement with the United States, and the fact it could once again position the U.S. barley industry as a preferred supplier is even better news for U.S. barley farmers,” USGC president and chief executive officer Ryan LeGrand said.

Buzz Mattelin, president of the National Barley Growers Assn., said particularly in light of supply disruptions from COVID-19, the new agreement would help barley farmers find new buyers for their crops.

“This is a positive development for U.S. barley farmers. Now, more than ever, it is vital that we diversify and develop new markets for U.S. barley, which has been experiencing reductions in acreage over the past decade,” he said.

USGC has been active in barley promotion in China dating back to the early 1990s, and its staff have been in conversations with the Chinese and U.S. governments about a barley protocol -- the primary roadblock to market entry for U.S. barley -- for several years.

“When negotiations started between the United States and China for Phase 1, the council saw this as a prime opportunity to make sure a barley protocol was included in the list of technical issues to be addressed to open up China to import more feed grains, including barley,” USGC senior director of global programs Cary Sifferath said.

The council and barley industry demanded that an import protocol be included in the technical and sanitary and phytosanitary provision of that deal, which ultimately required China to produce the guidelines within three months after the effective date of the agreement.

In anticipation of the ability of U.S. producers to export barley -- and with the Chinese brewing industry's renewed interest in U.S. malt -- USGC staff in China have been working with local importers to expand their supplier contacts. While the new protocol is needed for China's imports of malting barley and feed barley, it is not needed for barley malt. Malt has garnered some interest in the country recently.

USGC and the barley industry will also work with barley exporters or export facilities to ensure that they are on the General Administration of Customs China (GACC) list, which is maintained by USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service, to be in compliance to export according to China’s Decree No. 177.

While opening the door to a new potential market for U.S. barley, the protocol's approval also demonstrates that despite the global COVID-19 crisis and ongoing tensions between the two nations, both the U.S. and China are committed to the agriculture provisions of the Phase 1 deal. In this marketing year, China has also made substantial purchases of U.S. corn and sorghum for delivery in this and next marketing year.

“After much hard work and many years, we are pleased that China is open to U.S. barley imports and what they could mean for barley farmers and malt producers in our country,” LeGrand said. “We appreciate the teamwork shown by industry and governments to make this happen.”

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