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Soybean Prices Fall on US Supply Glut Woes

March 5, 2019 at 19:59 by Andrew Moran

Soybean futures are falling on Tuesday after a new US government report suggested that the domestic supply glut could linger for at least three more years. With the US and China on the cusp of striking a new trade deal, there were beliefs that Beijing would be importing more soybeans, but no new orders have been submitted, leaving domestic farmers worried about their ballooning stockpiles.

May soybean futures tumbled $0.0225, or 0.25%, to $9.1375 per bushel at 18:32 GMT on Tuesday on the Chicago Board of Trade. Thanks to a strong start to 2019, soybean prices remain up 0.75% year-to-date, though they have slid 2% over the last month.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, it could take three years or more to eliminate the glut of soybean supplies. Speaking at the USDA’s Agriculture Outlook event in Washington, chief economist Robert Johansson sounded the alarm that the stocks-to-use ratio of soybeans was roughly 23%, much higher than the average 10%.

Johansson does not anticipate this ratio to return to 10% until the 2022–2023 crop year, which means prices could be depressed for quite a while.

To get back to 10 percent stocks to use, we would expect to take a number of years. Producers are holding on to them right now, looking for a better price. Prices are going to recover…. But right now we forecast prices to take at least three years to get back to the levels we saw last year.

The USDA pegged soybean acres at 85 million, down 4.7% from the previous year. Also, American farmers recorded a soybean yield of 52.1 bushels per care in 2018, which is an all-time high.

Will improved US-China relations rescue the domestic soybean industry? Despite Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announcing that Beijing has promised to purchase large sums of American soybeans, it is being reported that no sales have been completed. China has said that it will purchase more US commodities, including beef, pork, and soybeans as part of the trade truce, but traders noted that the intentions have not led to shipments from the Gulf and the Pacific Northwest.

Meanwhile, in other soybean markets, the latest projections suggest that Brazil is anticipated to harvest a record crop, but its exports will be lower than in the US, especially should China follow through on its 10-million-tonne order.

In other agricultural commodities, May corn futures rose $0.0075, or 0.2%, to $3.755 per pound. May wheat futures tacked on $0.085, or 1.87%, to $4.464 a bushel. May orange juice futures dipped $0.007, or 0.6%, to $1.16 a pound.

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