Prices for crops like corn and soybeans have declined as the U.S. has sparred with top trading partners, but exports of those crops have not plummeted the way many observers had feared.
Corn exports, for example, are up 3 percent over the previous marketing year. (The marketing year USDA uses for corn and soybeans runs from September 1 to August 31.) Soybean exports are down 3 percent, but Gregg Doud, the top agriculture negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, considers that to be an encouraging sign given the turmoil caused by tariffs lobbed back and forth between the U.S. and China — the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans.
“What we’re seeing in these markets right now is that corn, soybeans, beef, pork — they’ve been really, really solid,” Doud said after meeting with leaders of Nebraska agriculture groups in Omaha on Monday.
Soybean exports to China are down 23 percent, but the overall decline in exports was small thanks to larger shipments to countries like Vietnam, Pakistan and Egypt, which has nearly tripled its soybean imports from the U.S. this year.
Farm groups continue to push for a speedy resolution with China and for completion of NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico.
“We continue to hear about importers talking about concerns they have related to the future,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson. “Every day that goes by without trade agreements we either lose business or we have the potential to lose business.”
While trade numbers appear to be stable for now, Nelson said he is still concerned about low prices and losing out long-term to competitors like Brazil and Argentina, which are rumored to be ramping up soybean production for 2019.
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