- Chinese soybean demand is still low, causing a massive oversupply problem and a major headache for US soybean farmers.
- The US soybean supply has risen dramatically as the trade war takes its toll, with $US7.9 billion lost by US farmers in the past year, according to US Department of Agriculture officials.
- Robert Johansson, the chief economist of the USDA, on Thursday forecast that roughly 27.5 million tons of US soybeans would go unsold in 2019 as a direct consequence of the trade war.
- The US agricultural trader Bunge reported a $US125 million fourth-quarter loss in the soybean market, citing “factors related to China trade and demand.”
The trade war between Washington and Beijing has had a major impact on the US agricultural space over the past two years, with the latest US Department of Agriculture figures shining a light on the difficulties faced by farmers during the dispute.
Robert Johansson, the chief economist of the USDA, on Thursday said close to 25 million metric tons, or about 27.5 million tons, of US soybeans would go unsold in 2019 as a direct consequence of the trade war.
US soybean exports to China fell by 13.5 million metric tons year-over-year in the 2019 crop year, Johansson said. US soybean supplies have increased dramatically in the past two years amid the trade war. Johansson forecast that unsold soybean stocks would more than double to 24.8 million metric tons in 2019.
Speaking at the agency’s annual forum in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday, Johansson added that trade tensions between the two nations cost soybean farmers $US7.9 billion last year, the Financial Times reported.
“The record-high stocks in the US due to the trade situation will take several years to unwind, which will weigh on US prices going forward even with potential China purchase agreements,” Johansson said in prepared remarks.
Total shipments of the US-grown oil seeds fell sharply after China hit them with a 25% tariff last July, leading to stories of soybeans rotting in fields across the US and a spate of bankruptcies.
China, which was the largest buyer of US soybeans as recently as 2017, is now just the fifth largest, according to the USDA, which projected a 6% drop in agricultural exports from the US to China.
Confusion about the state of trade talks, set to continue Friday ahead of a March 1 deadline, has left the US farming industry in the dark amid a roller coaster of expectations.
American farmers are putting off buying equipment amid the uncertainty.
The impact of the trade conflict was plain to see in the results of the major agricultural trader Bunge, which bet big on Brazilian soybeans in light of the trade war’s impact on US exports.
The company saw a $US125 million loss related to a decline in Brazilian soybean prices in the fourth quarter of 2018, blaming “factors related to China trade and demand” for the loss.
“Trump’s tariffs might be a time-limited event, but the change in trading patterns they prompted for China may persist long after the trade war is over,” Alfred Evans, the founder and CEO of Islan Investments, told Business Insider. This, he said, was “not good news for Bunge or any of the US exporters.”
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