Organic soybean meal imports from India under scrutiny

Trade Commission to investigate whether Indian organic soybean meal unfairly traded and distorting U.S. organic soybean market.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

May 18, 2021

3 Min Read
soybean meal USDA Zeeland Michigan facility.jpg
USDA Flickr

Over the past several years, Indian organic meal has flooded the U.S. market, jumping from just 2% before the surge to now owning nearly 70% of the U.S. organic meal market. U.S.-produced organic soybean meal meanwhile has plummeted from 80% of the market to just over 30%.

The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) determined that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of organic soybean meal from India that are allegedly subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.

On March 31, 2021, the Commerce Department received a countervailing duty (CVD) petition concerning imports of organic soybean meal from India, filed in proper form on behalf of the Organic Soybean Processors of America and eight domestic processors of organic soybean meal.

OSPA says while demand for organic meal is at its highest point in history due to U.S. consumers desiring more sustainable organic products, OSPA members are facing dire circumstances due to subsidized and dumped imports from India.

“Domestic organic soybean meal processors have been forced to shutter or operate at a loss, making the U.S. organic poultry and dairy sectors almost entirely reliant on India. This over-reliance threatens the entire U.S. organics industry and consumers,” says OSPA. 

COVID-19 related closures at India’s ports in 2020 caused shortages and skyrocketing prices, OSPA adds. In addition, India faces longstanding claims of fraud in India’s organic industry.

Ryan Koory, director of economics at Mercaris, says that the OSPA petition summitted contained a fair amount of research. “However, one of the data gaps that exists is with regard to the true economics of organic soy production in India. And, this is one of the areas that will be thoroughly investigated by the USITC,” Koory adds.

As a result of the Commission’s affirmative determinations, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue its investigations of imports of organic soybean meal from India, with its preliminary countervailing duty determination due on or about June 24, 2021, and its preliminary antidumping duty determination due on or about September 7, 2021.

Koory notes, “Given the significance of Indian organic soy to U.S. supplies, it's a pretty good guess that any major move by the USITC will have a sizeable impact on U.S. markets.”

Should the ITC decide in OSPA’s favor, Commerce will make a decision on the amount of preliminary duties to impose on Indian organic meal by Fall 2021. “This will allow U.S. organic companies that use Indian meal time to adjust over the summer to the challenges facing the market and meet current obligations,” OSPA says. “OSPA believes that the entire organic industry can benefit when all organic products are traded around the world in accordance with the rules.”

Laura Batcha, Organic Trade Association CEO and executive director, says the organizaton looks forward to the outcome of the rigorous investigation.

“The U.S. organic industry should operate in a fair and transparent marketplace. The Organic Trade Association’s global programming supports the competitiveness of U.S. organic farmers as well as access to transparent global supply chains," Batcha says.


About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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