USDA has calculated a "significant jump" in ethanol exports to China following a trade mission to the country last year.
Representatives from nine state departments of agriculture and 28 U.S. companies, including renewable fuels businesses, traveled to northeast China to explore opportunities for trade in the region during the USDA-led trip.
China is the largest market for U.S. food and farm products, USDA says. U.S. agricultural exports to the country tripled over the last decade, now accounting for nearly 20% of all foreign sales of U.S. agricultural products.
"Our objective for every trade mission is to create new markets for farm products made in rural America," said USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse, who led the mission. "U.S. ethanol exports to China have jumped from $8 million to more than $86 million since our May 2014 visit. In October, we exported more ethanol to China than in the previous 10 years combined."
Scuse led the delegation to promote U.S. agriculture, and explore the role that renewable fuels might play in China's long-term clean energy strategy. The delegation met with gasoline companies, fuel blenders, oil companies, commodity traders, and government officials to promote the benefits of using higher ethanol blends.
During October, the U.S. exported 32.5 million gallons of ethanol to China, valued at $57 million, or 46% of total U.S. ethanol exports for the month. Previous U.S. exports of ethanol to China averaged less than $3 million annually from 2005 to 2014.
Expanding ethanol use
Earlier this year, USDA partnered with 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership to nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide, expanding the ethanol refueling infrastructure by nearly 5,000 pumps, a $210 million investment that will give consumers access to clean, American-made biofuels, and provide more choices at the pump.
"These are the kind of initiatives that strengthen our rural communities, and open new doors and help our farmers and ranchers capitalize on the tremendous export potential for American agricultural products," said Scuse.
USDA says U.S. agricultural exports supported more than 1 million American jobs both on and off the farm, a substantial part of the estimated 11.7 million jobs supported by exports all across the U.S.