Despite the expanding cases of COVID-19 in the United States, the U.S. soybean industry continues to operate at near full capacity. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has classified the food and agriculture sectors as essential infrastructure and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues working to ensure access, resources and safety are prioritized. U.S. railroads, barge operations, trucking companies and other necessary infrastructure and logistical support remain functioning at full capacity to support the ongoing efforts by soybean processors, agricultural export facilities, grain inspectors and U.S. soybean farmers
Many U.S. farmers have already begun planting their 2020 crops of soybeans, corn and other crops with planting expected to accelerate as April should bring warmer weather to the Midwest. It is expected that U.S. soybean farmers will plant close to 34.4 million hectares (85 million acres) of soybeans in 2020 assuming weather permits. Last year’s crop totaled 30.8 million hectares (76.1 million acres) as the cool, wet weather in 2019 prevented planting in many areas of the U.S.
U.S. soybean supplies are currently plentiful. USDA is forecasting U.S. soybean stocks on August 31, 2020 to be 11.56 million metric tons (MMT), or 425 million bushels. U.S. soybean processors in recent months have been crushing record amounts of soybeans to supply strong domestic demand by the livestock and poultry sectors while continuing to supply solid export demand. While soybean exports to China remain below levels prior to the U.S.-China trade dispute, soybean export demand has remained strong in the 2019-2020 marketing year (September 1, 2019 through August 21, 2020). As of March 19, the U.S. has exported 31.29 MMT of soybeans in the current marketing year, outpacing 2019 exports by over 2.1 MMT (77 million bushels) at the same time last year. U.S. soybean meal exports in the current marketing year totaled 5.62 MMT of soybean meal, down slightly from the 5.73 MMT a year earlier. U.S. soybean oil exports have increased to 0.553 MMT, up slightly from 0.418 MMT in 2019.
U.S. soybean prices have increased in recent weeks as petroleum prices and demand for ethanol have dropped. The sharply lower prices of petroleum and greatly reduced use of gasoline in the U.S., due to the impacts of COVID-19, have resulted in the closure and slowdown of ethanol production facilities in the U.S. This has reduced the supply of DDGS for use by the feed industry and, consequently, prices have increased, and animal feeders have reduced their use of DDGS in favor of using more soybean meal in feeds. As petroleum and gasoline prices remain low, it is expected there will continue to be strong domestic and export demand for U.S. soybeans and soybean meal.
As noted above, U.S. soy export infrastructure continues to operate at near full capacity. Importers who are seeking U.S. soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil can be assured that business remains normal and the U.S. soy industry, including exporters, inspectors, and others are collaboratively working to ensure the timely delivery of customer orders. As some other soy origins around the world are currently encountering disruptions to their export channels due to COVID-19, the U.S. soy industry remains actively engaged to ensure the production of soy products, the protection of the logistics that support exports, and providing safe working environments for employees. The U.S. soy industry is optimistic about its ability to remain active in producing and delivering a reliable supply of high quality products to buyers globally. If you are interested in purchasing U.S. soy products or connecting with a U.S. soy exporter, please visit https://purchase.ussec.org/.