China To Bolster Rural Economy By Expanding Agriculture Reforms 

To promote economic growth and offset trade challenges, China plans to deepen reforms of its agriculture sector to boost its rural economy, the government said in its first policy statement of 2019.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, experienced its weakest growth in 28 years in 2018 and remains caught up in a trade war with Washington, Reuters reported.

“Under the complicated situation of increasing downward pressure on the economy and profound changes in the external environment, it is of special importance to do a good job in agriculture and rural areas,” the government said in the document issued by the State Council and published by official news agency Xinhua.

The 2019 policy restated a 2017 strategy to ramp up the rural economy to improve income levels and living standards in China’s countryside.

Shares of Chinese livestock companies, along with pig and poultry producers, jumped on Wednesday following the policy’s release that outlines plans to accelerate development of a new farm subsidy policy system while cracking down on agriculture product smuggling.

Additionally, the government will strengthen the monitoring and control of African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks, after more than 100 cases were reported in China since last August.

In addition, the paper described a plan to boost domestic soybean production but did not offer further details. Industry analysts said they are anxious to find out more details to assess the impact of the plan, which had already been flagged by Agriculture Minister Han Changfu earlier this month.

China has been overhauling its crop structure in recent years, reducing support for corn and seeking to promote more planting of oilseeds. This has become increasingly important since the trade war with the U.S. which led China to impose tariffs on soybean imports.

Like policies in the past, 2019’s also called for stable grain production, but an increase in imports of agriculture products where needed.

The policy also shared plans to tackle rural pollution and promote recycling of agricultural waste.

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