American Farmers Will Plant More Acres of Soybean Than Corn This YearBy and
Soybean acreage in the U.S. this year will exceed
corn plantings for the first time in 35 years, according to a
government survey, suggesting American farmers remain undeterred
by possible Chinese trade sanctions.
Soybeans will cover 89 million acres in 2018, while corn may be
planted on 88 million acres, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
said Thursday in a report in Washington. Plantings for both will
decline from a year ago, with USDA forecasts for each below the
lowest prediction in a Bloomberg survey of analysts. The
government's spring-wheat estimate topped all forecasts, with an
expected 12.6 million acres, up 15 percent from last year.
The planting estimates are the USDA’s first forecast of the year
based on farmer surveys. With seeding a few weeks away in most
Midwestern states, price swings and weather can spur changes in
the outlook. In February, the agency projected corn and soybeans
would each cover 90 million acres.
Last year, U.S. farmers planted 90.2 million acres of corn and
90.1 million acres of soybeans.
In a separate report released Thursday, the USDA pegged corn
held in inventories as of March 1 at 8.89 billion bushels and
soybeans at 2.11 billion bushels, both records for that date and
above the average analyst forecasts.
Soybean futures have risen as much as 12 percent, supported by a
prolonged drought in Argentina, the top exporter of soybean meal
used in livestock feed. While corn has also rallied, the acreage
projections signal that farmers are more optimistic about
The USDA survey comes at a time of rising trade tensions and
heightened anxiety for U.S. soybean farmers. China is said to be
studying the potential impact of trade restrictions on the
commodity, people familiar with the matter said in February. An
editorial published last week in a newspaper affiliated with
China’s ruling Communist Party criticized alleged dumping of
Still, the commodity wasn’t included on a Chinese list last week
of products that will face new tariffs, unlike U.S. imports of
pork. Analysts at Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have
said this week that China probably won’t impose tariffs on U.S.
U.S. soybean production was valued at $40.9 billion in 2016,
according to the American Soybean Association. Chinese demand
has grown in importance for exporters: The nation’s purchases
have more than doubled in the past decade, bolstered by an
expanding hog herd and pork consumption.
The only other time that soybean planting topped corn was in
1983, near the beginning of a farm crisis that culminated in
relief efforts such as Farm Aid. Faced with a wave of
foreclosures in rural America, the government discouraged corn
growing to help ease a grain glut.