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Could Stored Soybeans Spoil Before Trade Conflict Ends?
USAgNet - 02/21/2019

Agricultural experts worry that millions of bushels of stored soybeans awaiting the end of the U.S. trade war with China could spoil before a settlement is reached. In North Dakota, farmers there and in surrounding states rarely keep large quantities of beans long after harvest, reports UPI. Most are sold directly to China. But China's high tariffs on American soy has left beans in that region with nowhere to go but grain bins.

And if the trade dispute drags into the spring and summer, chances increase that those beans will turn moldy.

"That's not something that happens overnight," said Ken Hellevang, an agricultural engineer at the North Dakota State University's extension office. "But over time, you can have major spoilage issues occurring."

Although soy growers across the Midwest are struggling to sell their crops, it's the growers in North Dakota and surrounding states who have been most severely impacted. That region has direct rail access to ports in the Pacific Northwest, from which ships set sail for China. So the vast majority of beans from the Dakotas are earmarked for China -- more so than from any other U.S. region.

China consumes huge quantities of soy and purchases about 30 percent of all the beans grown in the United States, mostly to feed livestock, according to U.S. government statistics.

To meet the explosive demand, U.S. farmers grew more soy. The production value of the crop exceeded $41 billion in 2017, according to the American Soybean Association.

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