The agreement will be in place until 2021
By Diego Flammini
More U.S. soybeans could arrive at European ports thanks to a new agreement with the European Union (EU).
Yesterday, the European Commission formally announced that American soybeans can be used in biofuel production. Previously, any U.S. soybeans exported to the EU were used for animal feed, but the soybean oil byproduct was returned to the U.S.
Industry sources estimate the EU biodiesel market uses approximately 700,000 tons of soy oil in total, said Brent Babb, the U.S. Soybean Export Council's European director.
The new agreement will change that rule until at least July 1, 2021.
Imports of U.S. soybeans by the European Union from July to December 2018 have increased by 112 per cent compared to the same period last year, the European Commission says.
About 75 per cent of EU soybean imports come from the U.S., making it Europe’s largest soybean supplier.
"U.S. soybean exports to the EU have been increasing over the last several years based on market conditions and the value U.S. soy brings in providing high digestibility, consistent quality and reliable logistics in addition to its well-documented, sustainable production," Babb told Farms.com in an email.
U.S. President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed last July to increase trade between the two sides and remove trade barriers.
Tuesday’s “decision is new proof that the EU is delivering on our commitments,” said Margaritis Schinas, a European Commission spokesperson, the Associated Press reported. “This means that as of today it will be easier for U.S. soybeans to enter the EU market.”
The U.S. soybean industry is pleased with Europe’s decision because it reaffirms the benefits of the Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), the industry’s own sustainability guideline.
“U.S. farmers have long prided themselves on adopting newer and better methods for producing high-quality soybeans that are grown responsibly and sustainably,” Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association, said in a statement. “The SSAP sets a high standard that demonstrates that commitment, and we are pleased that the EU Commission has recognized our efforts by opening the door for SSAP-certified soybeans to be used in EU biodiesel.”