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With Trade Balance Shifts, U.S. Soy Reliability should be our North Star

By Jim Sutter

Despite challenges spanning the pandemic, trade uncertainty and unpredictable weather conditions over the past couple of growing seasons, U.S. Soy’s prospects remain bright as export growth and increased world demand continue to drive the U.S. soy industry’s progress forward.

But real threats to U.S. agricultural producers have emerged. Given trade balance shifts, free and reciprocal trade is paramount for our U.S. soybean farmers to remain competitive on the world stage. Even during these circumstances, U.S. Soy proved its grit and tenacity as it was confronted with several obstacles this 2020 growing season when deemed ‘critical infrastructure’ by the U.S. government amidst the pandemic. It’s demonstrated that our long-term viability is massively dependent on maintaining status as a steadfast and significant supplier to the global network that depends on our product.

Continuing to grow production along with global demand and providing a reliable supply of U.S. soybeans is a point of pride and should always be our north star. The U.S. cannot afford to open the door for other soy-producing countries to infringe on the markets we’ve worked hard to cultivate, while they exponentially increase their soybean production, especially when we have sustainability as a key differentiator at the forefront of our portfolio. Up against the rampant fires in the Amazon Rainforest, sourcing U.S. Soy offers our customers a simple solution to global challenges – as we’re the number one country in the world for preservation of public forestry lands.[1]

To add to this, world demand for soy continues to rise, which will ensure that all suppliers have a seat at the table. But emphasizing our competitive advantage of sustainability, quality and reliability will only become more important to our importers as the health of our planet continues to be a key focal point for consumers worldwide.

Record U.S. Soybean Yields and Growing World Demand

While the COVID-19 pandemic created substantial losses of more than $4.7 billion for U.S. soybean farmers and crushers between January and June 2020[2], the resiliency of our U.S. soybean farmers and other facets of the soy value chain will pull us through, and we anticipate a return to more stable markets for U.S. Soy in the coming year. Indeed, there are already positive signs as we approach harvest – the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has projected U.S. soybean farmers to harvest a record yield of 53.3 bushels per acre and a near-record crop size of 4.425 bushels per acre.[3]

Meanwhile, global demand for soy is rising, and the United States is well-positioned to be the premier supplier of choice. World demand is up 16.0 million metric tons (MMT) year over year, outpacing a 10-year trend of +11.3 MMT/year.[4]

U.S. Soy Advantage is Key Differentiator

U.S. Soy holds a strong competitive advantage when it comes to sustainability, quality, and reliability.

Demand for sustainability continues to be a pressing consideration when sourcing soy. U.S. farmers take great care to protect and nurture their land, on which the USDA has encouraged soil conservation programs since 1935. In 2013, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) responded to customer requests for a supply of documented and certified sustainable soy and worked with a multi-stakeholder group of consumers from around the world, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and farmers to develop the U.S. Soy Sustainability Protocol (SSAP), which verifies the sustainability of exported U.S. Soy. Year to date, 40% of U.S. soy exports are verified under the SSAP, making it the largest sustainability verification scheme in the world.[5]

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