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February 20, 2019 11:00 AM, EST

Corn Included in Trump’s Trade Talks With China

Corn Barrett Emke/Bloomberg News

U.S. corn sales to China have been part of the ongoing trade discussions between the nations, President Donald Trump said from the White House Oval Office on Feb. 19.

“These are not just, you know, let’s sell corn or let’s do this,” Trump said, referring to trade discussions. “It’s going to be selling corn, but a lot of it, a lot more than anyone thought possible,” he said, adding that the talks with China are “going very well.”

American farmers have been at the center of Trump’s trade war after Beijing last year slapped tariffs on a host of U.S. agricultural products. China has returned to the U.S. market for soybeans in recent months amid a temporary truce between the nations, but grain growers have been anxious to see evidence of demand for other crops. Negotiations are scheduled to continue in Washington through Feb. 22 as a March 1 deadline for higher U.S. tariffs approaches.

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press)

While soybeans have grabbed most of the headlines about the farm tariffs, many other products are facing duties. Besides corn, apricots, alfalfa, cherries, pistachios, pork and sorghum are other items on the hit list.

The administration delivered an aid package to help counter the blow from tariffs. More than 864,000 producers applied since the program’s debut in September, and payments have reached almost $8 billion, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week.

A team from USDA was part of the talks last week. The discussions were “productive,” Deputy Secretary Steve Censky told reporters at an industry conference in Schaumburg, Ill., on Feb. 19. He declined to comment on whether there was an agreement for China to make more purchases of U.S. farm goods during the truce.

“Our goal in these negotiations when it comes to agriculture is not only get some very robust purchase commitments, but to really get the fundamental structural reforms that are necessary over the long term,” Censky said.