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Published March 20, 2008, 12:00 AM

Soybeans are big export crop

When U.S. farmers are asked which country is the chief export competitor for soybeans with the U.S. they almost always say Brazil. That’s because we always hear about how many acres of soybeans are planted in Brazil and how big its soybean production is. But that’s not the case. Argentina’s combined exports of soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil last year will total 41 million tons compared to 38.6 for Brazil.

By: Mike Krueger, The Jamestown Sun

When U.S. farmers are asked which country is the chief export competitor for soybeans with the U.S. they almost always say Brazil.

That’s because we always hear about how many acres of soybeans are planted in Brazil and how big its soybean production is. But that’s not the case. Argentina’s combined exports of soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil last year will total 41 million tons compared to 38.6 for Brazil. Argentina will continue to export more in the coming year as well. Brazil produces more soybeans, but Argentina exports more soybeans and soy products.

Soybeans are now clearly the top crop in Argentina. More land is planted to soybeans than all other crops combined. This is because soybeans are cheaper to produce than almost all other crops and are subject to fewer export restrictions that other crops. That’s because little soybean meal or soybean oil is used within the country. One potential problem is that farmers in Argentina tend to plant soybeans on the same land year after year. Agronomists know that sooner or later yields are bound to suffer without a break in the rotation. Some agronomists in Argentina also believe that farmers are not doing what they should to maintain the quality of the soil where soybeans are being grown almost continuously. The enormous growth in Argentine soybean production has been a financial godsend to the Argentine government. The government has a 35 percent export tax on soybeans and a 32 percent tax on soybean meal and soybean oil. That means the government gets the value of one of every three bushels exported. It’s estimated the government will earn more than $5 billion in revenue from the export taxes on soybeans this year. The export tax revenue from soybeans and products is likely to make up between 15 and 20 percent of total government receipts.

Krueger is the host of “The Money Farm,”

a syndicated radio and television program

on grain marketing and is a licensed

commodity broker. He can be reached

by e-mail at mike@themoneyfarm.com.

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