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U.S. Soy Losing Ground in Race to Feed Livestock

U.S. Soy Losing Ground in Race to Feed Livestock
Reuters Image/Stringer

Compared to other soybean-supplying countries around the world, the protein content of U.S. soybeans is losing ground. A Bloomberg report says the world is eating more meat, poultry, and dairy products than ever, but U.S. farmers may be losing some ground to Brazil in the competition to feed the world’s animals.

South America and Europe expanded their soybean sales this year, driving the number of American soybean exports lower. After a wet harvest season, especially in the Midwest, the harvest yielded soybeans with less protein content, a key ingredient that helps those animals build muscle. This year’s protein content was 34.1 percent per bushel, tied with 2008 for the lowest number since USDA began keep track. U.S. exports often have to contend with higher-protein soybeans from Brazil, with Brazilian beans typically around 37 percent.

However, the widening gap between U.S. and Brazil soybeans potentially means an erosion in buying demand, especially from China, which is the world’s largest buyer. Brazil’s share of the soybean export market is expected to rise to 43 percent this season while the U.S. share falls to 37 percent.

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