Australia-China Spat Opens Door for Grain Rival Argentina

Farmers in Argentina are pouncing on a trade feud between grain rival Australia and voracious crop buyer China.

Argentine growers are set to expand barley plantings by 28% this year after China slapped tariffs on Australian exports of the grain used in livestock feed, one of a slew of similar restrictions imposed by Beijing amid souring relations.

Farmers on Argentina’s Pampas crop belt usually compete with Australia for a share of global wheat sales, while sending their barley to camel herds in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East. But the diplomatic upheaval -- which comes as concern heightens on the Pampas that the government may raise wheat-export taxes -- has opened a door to ally China.

Australia-China Spat Opens Door for Grain Rival Argentina

Because barley and wheat are almost interchangeable when used as animal feed ingredients, a buyer’s choice often comes down to cost.

Benchmark U.S. wheat futures have surged 53% since late June, touching an eight-year high last week. Spot prices in Argentina for barley -- which is mostly planted in July and harvested in December -- have also climbed, although at a slower clip.

Australia has been China’s biggest provider of barley over the past decade, according to MIT Media Lab data through 2019, with the Asian giant regularly sourcing well over half of its imports from Australian farms.

Read more on the China-Australia trade feud:

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