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U.S. soy sets export record in 2017-18 marketing year

Soy leaders collaborate to continue momentum in growing international demand for future.

Farmer investments in international markets produced strong results in the 2017-18 marketing year despite the trade dynamics that developed as the export period closed.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, soybean farmers exported a record-breaking 2.6 billion bu. of U.S. soybeans and soy products valued at more than $28 billion last marketing year. The U.S. also set a new record high in the combined volume of whole soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil exported in 2017-18, with soybean meal exports accounting for the greatest growth.

Arkansas soybean farmer Derek Haigwood, chairman of the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and director of the United Soybean Board (USB), said he expects to see the impact of trade issues in the 2018-19 marketing year. The official marketing year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Exports during the 2017-18 marketing year would not have been largely affected by the import tariffs China introduced because shipments abroad normally take place after harvest (October to December).

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. soybeans -- mainly their exceptional amino acid content -- as well as 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,” Haigwood said.

USB chair Keith Tapp, a farmer from Sebree, Ky., said the dedication to opening new markets for soybeans has been and will remain a priority for USB investment and support.

“Our work to build the preference for U.S. soy is more important than ever,” he said. “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 Assn. (ASA) 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 U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement 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, and there are opportunities in emerging markets with lots of room to grow,” said Liz Hare, executive director of ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program (WISHH).

In 2017, the U.S. soybean industry launched an effort to shift a sizable portion of its marketing 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 such as Pakistan, Egypt and India. Globally, demand is forecasted to grow by about 15 million tons in 2019, according to economists at USSEC.

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