As America’s soy stockpile bursts at the beans, growers take a gutsy gamble

American soy farmers are saving their soybeans in the hopes that prices will soon rise -- but the ongoing trade war makes their bean bet a risky gamble.

November 13, 2018

America’s soybean stash is on track to double by the end of the year thanks to diminished demand caused by trade restrictions. 

Bloomberg writes that the price for a bushel of beans has fallen from nearly $11 to $8.87 as Chinese imports have dropped 90% this year. Now, American farmers are stockpiling their soy in the hopes that prices will rebound.

Farmers are betting their bottom bean

Prior to the trade war, American soy production was higher than it had ever bean. 

Now, confronted with the choice of selling these bountiful beans at bottom-of-the-bushel prices, most farmers have decided not to sell their soy, but to hoard it until the price of beans bounces back. 

That bean rebound is far from certain. Analysts expect soybean prices to climb back up to $9.27 per bushel by July, but a volatile market — or bad weather — could be their undoing.

Not enough room for all that legume

Since soybeans are typically sold immediately after harvest, most farmers don’t have enough storage for bonus beans. 

But necessity turned America’s farmers into soy-vants: in a stroke of bean brilliance, farmers converted thousands of plastic bags, tool sheds, and even caves into storage — and now they’re full of beans.

Unlike corn, however, soybeans don’t store well for long (especially in caves and plastic bags on the ground). So if the global soybean market doesn’t improve soon, America’s farmers may be saddled with 955m bushels of spoiled surplus.

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