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China Strives To Industrialize Farms Amid Trade War

China has long called for more modernization of its farms, and recent trade disputes have spurred a bigger push for independence. (Global Water Forum/flickr)

China announced last week on its state-run news that that it would pour more subsidies into upgrades on farm equipment.

Officials called on banks to finance efforts to mechanize farming and consolidate land for crops such as rice, wheat, corn, potato, rapeseed, cotton and sugarcane.

According to government figures, China employs 280 million people on farms, which is 100 times more than the U.S.

Chinese farms are much smaller, with an average of less than two acres per farm, compared to the average of 400 acres in the U.S.

Yields are also much smaller by comparison, with the yield for soybeans per acre less than half that of the U.S., according to United Nations figures.

During the heat of a trade skirmish in August this year, China’s agriculture ministry announced it would establish hundreds of new industrialized farm towns to help wean the country off imported crops.

In September, the country’s cabinet announced a five-year plan to improve farm productivity, and would get $6 billion in loans and grants from the Asia Development Bank to modernize agriculture, among other rural development projects.

But analysts say mechanizing rural farms too fast could destabilize the economy with millions of job losses, which explains why the country has moved slowly on modernization so far.

Read More:

  • China Pushes Modern Farming as Tariffs Make U.S. Crops Costlier (Dow Jones)
  • China Encourages Mechanized Agriculture With New Measures (Xinhua)
Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

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