WASHINGTON, DC, US — US barley can now be exported to China following the approval of a phytosanitary protocol by both countries, a market development achievement years in the making finally accomplished with the boost of the U.S.-China phase one deal signed in January.

 The notice on China’s customs website was posted on May 14 and confirmed to be approved by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). In the coming weeks, APHIS and the US Grains Council (USGC) will now work with Chinese officials to develop fumigation and industry best practices requirements, and the Council and barley industry will work to ensure potential exporters meet administrative requirements to sell to China.

“We are pleased to see China making strides to uphold their purchasing commitments under its phase one agreement with the United States, and the fact it could once again position the US barley industry as a preferred supplier is even better news for US barley farmers,” said Ryan LeGrand, president and chief executive officer of the USGC.

 Buzz Mattelin, president of the National Barley Growers Association (NBGA), said that particularly in light of supply disruptions from COVID-19, the new agreement would help barley farmers find new buyers for their crops.

“This is a positive development for US barley farmers,” he said. “Now more than ever it is vital that we diversify and develop new markets for US barley, which has been experiencing reductions in acreage over the past decade.”

The purchasing commitment comes just days after it was reported that China is threatening large tariffs on Australian barley imports as tensions rise between the two countries as Australia pushes for an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China is by far the largest importer of Australian barley, taking in over half of the country’s exports worth between A$1.5 billion and A$2 billion per year.

The USGC has been active in barley promotion in China dating back to the early 1990s, and its staff has been in conversations with the Chinese and US governments about a barley protocol — the primary roadblock to market entry for US barley — for several years.

 “When negotiations started between the United States and China for phase one, the Council saw this as a prime opportunity to make sure a barley protocol was included in the list of technical issues to be addressed to open up China to import more feed grains, including barley,” said Cary Sifferath, senior director of global programs at the USGC.

 The Council and barley industry demanded an import protocol be included in the technical and sanitary and phytosanitary provision of that deal, which ultimately required China to produce the guidelines within three months after the effective date of the agreement.

In anticipation of the ability of US producers to export barley — and with renewed interest in US malt by the Chinese brewing industry — USGC staff in China have been working with local importers to expand their supplier contacts. While the new protocol is needed for Chinese imports of malting barley and feed barley, it is not needed for barley malt. Malt has garnered some interest in the country recently.

 The USGC and the barley industry also will work with barley exporters or export facilities to ensure they are on the General Administration of Customs China (GACC) list, maintained by USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), to be in compliance to export according to China’s Decree No. 177.

 While opening the door to a new potential market for US barley, the protocol’s approval also demonstrates that despite the global COVID-19 crisis and ongoing tensions between the two nations, both the United States and China are committed to the phase one deal’s agriculture provisions. In this marketing year, China also has bought substantial purchases of US corn and US sorghum for delivery in this and next marketing year.

 “After much hard work and many years, we are pleased that China is open to US barley imports and what they could mean for barley farmers and malt producers in our country,” LeGrand said. “We appreciate the teamwork shown by industry and governments to make this happen.”