U.S. soy sets export record in market year despite trade war


Farmer investments in international markets set an export record in the 2017/2018 marketing year, despite trade dynamics developing as the export period closed.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. soybean farmers exported a record-breaking 2.6 billion bushels of U.S. soy and soy products, valued at more than $28 billion last market year. The U.S. also set a new record high in combined volume of the whole soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil exported in 2017/2018, with soybean meal exports accounting for the greatest growth.

Derek Haigwood, a soybean farmer from Newport, Arkansas and chairman of U.S. Soybean Export Council and director for United Soybean Board, said he expects to see the impact of trade issues in the next, 2018/2019, marketing year. The official marketing year runs from October 1 to September 30. Exports during the 2017/2018 marketing year would not have been largely impacted by the tariffs introduced by China as shipments abroad normally take place after harvest.

USSEC recently initiated the “What it Takes” strategy to grow U.S. soybean demand worldwide and mitigate export losses to China. The program provides opportunities for industry experts and farmers to remind buyers about the intrinsic feed value of U.S. soy, mainly its exceptional amino acid content, the nation’s reliable transportation system and sustainable farming practices.

“Particularly at a time when global trade flows have dramatically changed, it is critical that we ensure access in all markets that want to purchase U.S. soybeans and soy products,” states Haigwood.

Keith Tapp, chair of USB and farmer from Sebree, Kentucky, says the dedication to opening new markets for soy has been and will remain a priority USB investment and support. “Our work to build the preference for U.S. soy is more important than ever,” he says. “Soy production is growing worldwide, and we continue to work across borders, industries and disciplines to find and develop markets for U.S. soy products.”

In cooperation with USB and USSEC, the American Soybean Association is a key partner in the collaboration to expand international markets for soy. ASA continues to advocate that President Donald Trump’s administration and Congress maintain current market access through passage of the USMCA as well as negotiate new free trade agreements to build additional market access for U.S. soybeans.

“U.S. soy is exported to more than 100 markets today,” Liz Hare, executive director of ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program says, “and there are opportunities in emerging markets with lots of room to grow.”

In 2017, the U.S. soy industry launched an effort to shift a sizable portion of its efforts to markets where there is significant future potential due to factors such as large populations, improving economic conditions, and currently low per capita protein and oil consumption. As a result of the coordinated work by these three soy organizations through programs such as WISHH and “What It Takes,” sizable export growth was seen in developing markets including Pakistan, Egypt, and India. Globally, demand is forecasted to grow by about 15 million tons in 2019, according to economists at the USSEC.

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