Soy prices fall as acreage, imports rise: ministry


SOYBEAN farmers in China may earn less this year than last year if prices of the oilseed keep falling, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture said yesterday, warning that it may threaten the country’s efforts to promote soy production over corn.

Chinese soybean prices started at a low level this year and have dropped rapidly since harvest began in September, pressured by higher domestic output and large volumes of imports, said Tang Ke, director of the market and economic information department at the Ministry of Agriculture.

“If prices keep falling, growing soybeans might be less profitable than last year despite higher subsidies to growers,” Tang said.

And smaller profits may lead farmers to switch back to corn next year, experts have said.

The government has issued a series of measures since last year, including higher subsidies for soybeans, to encourage farmers to switch from corn to other crops, and to get consumers and processors to use up nearly 200 million tons of old-stock corn.

Prices of soybeans in Harbin, capital of China’s top soybean producer Heilongjiang Province, fell almost 3 percent to 3,950 yuan (US$598.40) a ton from late September when the harvest hit the market, according to data from official think tank China National Grain and Oils Information Center.

Soybean output across all of China is expected to reach 14.4 million tons this year, up near 11 percent from last year, according to estimates by the think tank.

At the same time, soybean imports remain high. China imported 71.45 million tons of the oilseed in the first nine months of this year, up 15.5 percent from a year ago, according to customs data.

“Corn and soybeans are competitors. Farmers will look at their overall profits when deciding what to grow,” said Zhang Dalong, an analyst with COFCO Futures.

Corn acreage is expected to recover by 6 million to 8 million mu (400,000 to 533,000 hectares) next year, boosted by higher profits, according to estimates by COFCO Futures.


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