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US agriculture readies for China’s baby boom?


Table of Contents:

  • A shift in China's one-child policy could have significant implications for U.S. agriculture.

Will Beijing’s announced one-child policy change really affect overall numbers? It’s tough to tell: The change, despite international headlines, is more of an adjustment. From now on, if either Chinese parent is an only child, that couple will be allowed a second child. Slightly confusing, but in the past, both parents had to be only children to qualify for the exemption. China’s population policy, even with the change, remains draconian — forced abortions, sex selective abortions (118 boys born for every 100 girls; China’s boy-girl sex ratio is the highest in the world), sterilization and harsh fines estimated in the billions are still in practice — orchestrated directly from Beijing.

Yet, as China’s population ages and the 4-2-1 effects build, the one-child policy may be headed for more than a minor adjustment. As CoBank economist Dan Kowalski tells the Wall Street Journal: “More children will mean more dairy products and as those children age, meat consumption will rise. China will not be able to meet all its corn and soybean needs so it will rely on more imports. The U.S. is a prime supplier to China and that trade will become more important as time goes on."

The agriculture industry is well aware of the bottom line demographic numbers — even minor population changes in China can translate to major export changes in the U.S.


•Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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