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Soybean Dips As Chinese Imports Crater in May

June 11, 2019 at 14:51 by Andrew Moran

Soybean futures are slipping on Tuesday after new data found Chinese imports collapsed in May, suggesting that the trade war is having a severe impact on the world’s second-largest economy’s demand for American agriculture. If the trends continue, then reports have found that US farmers are seeking out Asian alternatives for their supplies or giving up on the crop altogether.

July soybean futures tumbled $0.055, or 0.64%, to $8.53 per bushel at 14:35 GMT on Tuesday on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBoT). Despite a stellar performance over the last month, soybean prices have fallen more than 3% in the past week. Year-to-date, soybean is down 4.6%.

According to the General Administration of Customs, China imported 7.36 million tonnes of soybeans last month, down from 9.69 million tonnes from the same time a year ago. This represents a 24% decrease. Beijing’s soybean imports are also down from 7.64 million tonnes in April, when shipments surged as buyers postponed cargoes on a tax adjustment.

In the first five months of the year, China has imported just under 32 million tonnes. That accounts for a 12.2% decline from the first five months of 2018.

It is not just US farmers feeling the pinch. Brazil’s soybean exports experienced a drop in the first week of June.

But this could be the primary trend moving forward as China is attempting to expand soybean production at home. Beijing is currently in the second year of its five-year plan to boost output levels – the federal government has confirmed that it is on target to meet its goals.

In China’s northeast, there has been immense acreage expansion, investments in technology for soybean seed breeding and planting, and farmers and researchers are partnering to develop soybean varieties.

This has plenty of farmers doing one of two things: fleeing the crop or searching for other Asian markets. The White House has been working with other Asian countries to see if they will purchase more US agriculture, including soybean. In the meantime, farmers are transitioning to other crops, such as corn, alfalfa, and wheat.

In the end, a lot of farmers have become dejected, conceding that it is too late, even if a new US-China trade deal is established.

In other agricultural commodities, July corn futures slid $0.06, or 1.44%, to $4.0975 a pound. July wheat futures shed $0.0275, or 0.54%, to $5.0475 per bushel. September orange juice futures edged up $0.01, or 1.03%, to $1.03 per pound.

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