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China Is Heading to Montana Farms in Latest Sign of Trade Thaw

Mike Dorning and Mario Parker
China Is Heading to Montana Farms in Latest Sign of Trade Thaw

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Chinese officials are getting ready to strap on their boots as the latest sign of a thawing in the trade war between the world’s largest economies pops up on Montana farms.

The officials are scheduled to visit American farms next week, U.S. Agriculture Department Secretary Sonny Perdue said Thursday. The delegation has a visit to Montana scheduled, arriving on Monday and departing on Wednesday afternoon, John Youngberg, executive vice president of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, said by email Thursday. The group said later in the day that the trip was planned on a tentative basis.

U.S. farming has become a main target of the more than year-long trade war as Beijing took shots against Donald Trump’s rural base. China’s retaliatory tariffs on everything from American apricots to soybeans crimped demand at a time when producers have also suffered from extreme weather. Now as the nations inch toward a trade deal, farming is once again taking center stage, but this time as a hallmark for progress.

The Asian country said last week it was encouraging purchases of American agriculture and was excluding commodities like soy and pork from extra tariffs. U.S. soybean export sales jumped to a six-month high last week, boosted by Chinese demand, and government data has signaled more buying in recent days.

Perdue said the farm visits are part of efforts to “build goodwill” between Washington and Beijing, while adding that he “doesn’t know” whether China will make more purchases of U.S. farm goods next week.

Montana Senator Steve Daines, a Republican, arranged this visit to the state, according to Rebecca Colnar, a spokeswoman for the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. The Chinese delegation is set to arrive in Bozeman Monday afternoon. The area boasts production of beef, dairy, sheep, wheat, along with companies that make bread and other products, she said.

CNBC, which reported on the visits earlier, said that the delegation would be led by China’s vice minister for agriculture and also stop in Nebraska.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mike Dorning in Washington at mdorning@bloomberg.net;Mario Parker in Chicago at mparker22@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net, Millie Munshi, Patrick McKiernan

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