Big crop, lagging exports build soy stocks

A 3 billion bushel-U.S. soybean crop and reduced U.S. exports are threatening to place even more pressure on prices this year and next.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of speculation that low moisture levels and hot, dry weather in major soybean-producing states would lower U.S. soybean production and start to put a dent in stocks.

Prices rose on that speculation, and the dry weather allowed for a rapid planting pace over much of the nation. After all the dust had settled, U.S. farmers had planted 74.5 million acres of soybeans, 1 percent higher than the record 1999 acreage.

Then abundant summer rains fell - yes, some areas of the country got plenty of the stuff - greatly increasing soil moisture in large soybean-producing states.

Now, based on the record acreage and a national average yield forecast of 40.7 bushels per acre, USDA is forecasting a record U.S. soybean crop in 2000 of 2.99 billion bushels. This year's output will likely exceed the 1998 record by nearly 250 million bushels.

The 2000-01 soybean farm price is expected to average $3.90 to $4.80 per bushel, down from the 1999-2000 average of $4.65, and to remain well below the loan rate ($5.26 per bushel) for the third consecutive year.

For a few years now, we've been hearing that world demand could help pull us through these dismal prices. But U.S. soybean exports in 2000-01 are projected to rise only slightly, to 1.01 billion bushels from last season's record 975 million.

Under this scenario, U.S. ending soybean stocks in 2000-01 could swell to 465 million bushels, from 280 million in 1999-2000.

Much of the lower U.S. export forecast comes from a lack of soybean import demand in China, reversing a recent trend. In 1998-99, China's soybean imports soared 31 percent and more than doubled to a record 9 million tons in 1999-2000, accounting for nearly 80 percent of world expansion in soybean trade last season.

Soybean exports from the U.S. to China nearly tripled in 1999-2000, up from 9 percent of total U.S. exports to 17 percent.

However, this encouraged Chinese farmers to sow more soybeans this year instead of corn. China's soybean area in 2000 is estimated up 10 percent, which would push the projected crop to a relatively large 15 million tons. As a result, China's soybean imports are expected to fall by one-fifth to 7.25 million tons in 2000-01.

European Union soybean imports also are expected to decline in 2000-01, because of changes in agricultural policy.

A record Argentine soybean area is projected next year, a result mostly of expanded double-cropping with wheat and some switching from sunflowers. Argentina's soybean production is expected to rise only modestly from 20.7 million tons this year to 21.5 million in 2000-01. Larger competitor supplies and smaller world imports will limit Argentine soybean exports next year to 4.1 million tons, compared with 5.1 million this year.

Historic Sanborn Field on the University of Missouri campus will open for visitors on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 1 to 5 p.m., said Randall Miles, associate professor of soil science and director of the field.

The research field has been in use for scientific study of agriculture since 1888. "It's the third-oldest continuous research field in the world," Miles said.

Research findings from Sanborn Field have led to many of today's modern sustainable agricultural systems. Crop rotations and use of animal manure for fertility were among the earliest studies. More recently, the development of "no-till" corn was added.

Theme of the field day is "Sustainability in the New Millennium."

The field is located at the northeast corner of Rollins St. and College Ave. Ag alumni activities will be held on the lawn of Eckles Hall across the street.

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