Iowa Public Television


Huge Soybean Crop in the U.S. and South America

posted on December 24, 2004

The Brazilian Senate this week gave its approval to a government decision to allow the planting and sale of genetically modified soybeans. The certification of the government decree allows Brazilian farmers to legally plant GM seeds during the 2004-05 crop year. Under the rule, farmers must sign a code of conduct before planting ... and are allowed only to use GM seeds produced on their own farms.

The thought of genetically enhanced soybeans pouring out of Brazil must be unsettling to farmers in the U.S., whose title as world's largest producer of the crop is under threat from South America. In fact, the outcome from this year's harvest in the southern hemisphere will have a wide-ranging impact on global prices and supplies.

Huge Soybean Crop in the U.S. and South America World soybean supplies will increase sharply in the 2004-05 crop year, as total production in Brazil and Argentina is forecast to increase more than 600 million bushels.

In Brazil, soybean planting is near completion. Although early-season moisture conditions are varied at this point, the weather pattern seems to be positive. However, Asian soybean rust is spreading in the country, causing concern for farmers. Moist weather conditions have helped the disease spread to 74 districts across eight states. According to the government's crop research agency, Embrapa, the rust is up from last week's report of 34 districts and six states. It's expected to increase next month when most of the crop enters the reproductive phase.

If soybean production around the world meets high expectations, prices will have a hard time going above current levels. As a result, Brazil's Agriculture Ministry is lobbying its Finance Minister and members of Congress for money. It wants to offer producers a chance to store up to 14 million metric tons of soy, corn and other crops from February 2005 so they aren't forced to sell during a post-harvest cycle of low prices.

Tags: agriculture Brazil crops diseases news