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USDA: China to remain largest soybean buyer, Brazil largest exporter

(Thursday, Nov. 13, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Associated Press: China will remain the world's largest buyer of soybeans and Brazil the largest exporter, the Agriculture Department forecast Wednesday.

China, the largest soybean buyer in the world, probably will import 290,000 metric tons this year. Most of the soybeans it buys are processed into meal for livestock as it tries to develop its meat industry.

Meanwhile, Brazil is expected to export 26 million metric tons of soybeans while the United States probably will ship even fewer- nearly 24 million tons, department economists said.

Until recently, the United States was the largest soybean exporter.

The United States is likely to see an increase in foreign competition for soybean exports because American farmers are forecast to harvest a small crop of 67 million tons. That's down from last year's harvest of 75 million tons.

The department's forecast for U.S. soybeans in storage was lowered to 3.4 million metric tons from last month's projection of 3.9 million. That's the smallest stocks have been since 1976. A metric ton is 2,205 pounds.

Prices for U.S. soybeans are going up because of lower production. Farmers could get as much as $7.55 per bushel this month, far more than last month's projected high price of $6.95.

The department raised its forecast for U.S. corn exports to 53 million tons, up 2 million from last month's projection. It cited lower exports from Argentina for the increase in U.S. market share.

Argentina is forecast to ship 11 million metric tons- down 2 million tons from last month's projection.

American farmers likely harvested about 261 million tons of corn this year- the second largest crop on record. Prices remain steady at about $2.30 per bushel.

U.S. cotton exports will probably be 13 million 480-pound (216-kilogram) bales, up from last month's projected 12 million. There has been an increase in demand for cotton in China, economists said, partly because its own crop was ruined by heavy rains.

U.S.. cotton growers were forecast to harvest 18.2 million 480-pound bales, up 4 percent from last month's forecast and 6 percent more than last year's crop

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