NPC delegates representing China's 900 million rural people fear for their future after the nation's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Under the WTO deal it signed in November, Beijing agreed to cut import tariffs on farm products from an average of 22 per cent to 17.5 per cent and reduce subsidies on agricultural exports. 'We are already feeling the impact of WTO membership,' delegate Hong Fazeng said. 'The cost of most Chinese farm goods is higher than the world price. 'For example, the production cost of one kilogram of US soyabean is 0.80 yuan (75 HK cents), half of that in northeast China. It costs 0.04 yuan to ship that one kilogram to Dalian over a distance of 20,000km, while it costs 0.045 yuan to move a Chinese kilogram 1,500km over our railway system. 'Foreign production of wheat is highly mechanised and on a big scale. US wheat still receives subsidies and its imports are putting very big pressure on us.' The three northeastern provinces have been worst hit, with thousands of tonnes of maize and soyabean stored in warehouses and farm barns, while customers switch to imports. Official newspapers call it the 'new northeast phenomenon' - 10 years ago that meant the plight of the state sector, now it means the plight of the farmers. Hong Hu, an NPC delegate and Governor of Jilin province, one of hardest hit, said orders from the south for Jilin maize started to fall last year, with the approach of WTO entry. In the US corn belt, on the same latitude, the average farmer has 100 hectares, while around Changchun, capital of Jilin, the average is one hectare. In advanced countries, maize stays in a warehouse for no more than one year and in Changchun for three years, with one tonne of maize costing several hundred yuan a year to store. Last year, China imported 13.94 million tonnes of soyabeans, equal to domestic production, and up from 10.42 million tonnes in 2000. Mao Daru, an NPC delegate and professor at the China Agriculture University, said the US soyabean yielded more oil than the Chinese bean and was cheaper, so refiners chose it. 'Our farm structure does not meet the demands of modern agriculture. The cost of farming and transport for a single household are very high,' Professor Mao said. Mr Hong said Jilin should continue to grow maize, because it had the best land and conditions for doing so. His solution is to sell it as feed grain and for industrial use, rather than as food. Jilin delegate Hao Fuxia, 41, is the kind of farmer who can survive in the WTO world. Since 1986, she has farmed 867 hectares with fewer than 10 employees - except during harvest time - producing 500 tonnes of high-quality grain a year, which she can sell at a premium. She also grows vegetables, farms fish and has built two brick factories with her surplus capital. She is applying for a 'Fuxia' brand of rice to be named after her. But she is an isolated case among the farming millions in the northeast.