February 27, 2003
News Release 03-019
U.S. SOYBEAN AND OILSEED EXPORTS FALL BY $2 BILLION DURING 1997-2001
AS LOWER WORLD PRICES SET IN, REPORTS ITC
U.S. soybeans and other oilseed exports -- which exceeded $5.5 billion in 2001 -- dropped by
25 percent ($2 billion) during 1997-2001 as competitors in Brazil and Argentina expanded
production and exports sharply and as U.S. farm prices fell by nearly a third, says the U.S.
International Trade Commission (ITC) in its report Industry and Trade Summary: Oilseeds.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding agency, recently released the report as part of
an ongoing series of reports on thousands of products imported into and exported from the
United States. Following are highlights from the report:
- The United States is the leading world producer and exporter of oilseeds. Foreign markets
purchased more than 40 percent of U.S. oilseed output during 1997-2001, the period covered
by the report, but Brazil and Argentina successfully challenged the U.S. dominance in world
oilseed markets. The U.S. market share of world soybean exports fell from 60 percent to
43 percent by marketing year 2001/02.
- U.S. farmers who grow oilseed crops -- overwhelmingly soybeans, but also cottonseed,
sunflowerseed, flaxseed, and canola -- number about 400,000 and are principally located in
the corn belt. The number of those U.S. farmers declined by about 7 percent during 1992-97,
according to the latest U.S. census data, with most of the loss consisting of small-sized or
- Physical production of oilseeds rose: the harvested acreage of oilseed in the United States
rose by 6 percent and the output by 9 percent during 1997-2001. However, with a 34 percent
decline in the farm price of soybeans, the value of U.S. oilseed production fell by 28 percent
($5 billion) during 1997-2001 to about $13 billion. The farm price of soybeans in 2001 was
the lowest in 30 years.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance programs for farmers under the Federal
Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act cushioned the effects of the drastic drop in prices.
The primary farm safety net program was the nonrecourse crop loan program that provided a
loan rate of $5.26 per bushel of soybeans. In 2001, Congress passed additional farm
legislation that provides direct and counter-cyclical income payments to eligible oilseed
growers for crops harvested during 2002 through 2007.
- The U.S. merchandise trade balance in oilseeds in 2001 was $5.4 billion. U.S. exports of
$5.6 billion in 2001 went primarily to the EU, China, Mexico, Japan, and other Southeast
Asian countries. About half of the $216 million of U.S. oilseed imports came from Canada
and consisted of canola, soybeans, sunflowerseed, and flaxseed. U.S. imports duties on
oilseed imports are very minor, averaging less than1 percent ad valorem in 2001. U.S.
exports of soybeans face substantial tariff and nontariff measures, particularly related to
phytosanitary regulations on genetically modified (GM) soybeans.
The foregoing information is from the ITC report Industry and Trade Summary: Oilseeds
(USITC Publication 3576, February 2003).
The ITC Industry and Trade Summary reports include information on product uses, U.S. and
foreign producers, and customs treatment of the products being studied; they analyze the basic
factors affecting trends in consumption, production, and trade of the commodities, as well as
factors bearing on competitiveness of the U.S. industry in domestic and foreign markets.
The report will be available on the ITC Internet web site at www.ustic.gov. A printed copy may
be ordered without charge by calling 202-205-1809, or by writing the Office of the Secretary,
U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may
be faxed to 202-205-2104.
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