It is not just the
US public finances which are approaching a "cliff".
The country's soybean
exports are too, nearing what might be termed a physical cliff, in terms of exports, farm officials
highlighted, in a report which flags a silver lining to oilseeds groups from
the summer's drought.
The US Department
of Agriculture - explaining a decision on Tuesday to leave its forecast for US
soybean shipments in 2012-13 unchanged at 36.6m tonnes (1.354m bushels), well
below the all-time high despite a record start to the season – said that the sharp
drop-off in trade is nigh.
"The record pace,"
which saw the volume of soybean exports inspected by officials reach 648m
bushels by December 6, "is unlikely to continue very long," the USDA said.
"It is likely that
an uncommonly high percentage of soybean exports will be shipped in the first
half of the marketing year.
"Exports should start
slowing with a steep decline in new sales," the department said, in comments
ahead of weekly US export sales data which came in at 1.3m tonnes - well ahead of market expectations and, indeed, the highest figure of 2012-13.
'Suddenly boosted prospects'
The expectations of
the slump in trade reflect expectations that the onset of South American
harvests early in 2013 will bring a fresh supply of soybeans onstream,
replenishing global supplies depleted by the region's own poor harvest this
year, besides that in the US.
processors in Argentina and Brazil "are slowing crush rates due to the scarcity
of remaining soybean stocks there," the USDA said.
This dynamic was
boosting the competitiveness of US exporters of soymeal and soyoil, the main
products of soybean crushing, "at least for the next few months", and fuelling
a rise in shipments to China which have in two months beaten their total for
the whole of 2012-13.
unusually large export sales of soyoil have suddenly boosted US trade prospects
for the commodity," said the department, which on Tuesday hiked by 280,000
tonnes, to 820,000 tonnes, its forecast for soyoil exports in 2012-13.
The ability of US crushers
to meet this demand is being helped by a positive factor stemming from the
summer drought in the US, the worst since 1956, which cut yields to well below
The USDA, expanding
on an upgrade of 210,000 tonnes to 8.30m tonnes in domestic soyoil production,
said that the revision was down to "higher expected rates for both the crush
and oil yield".
content is often associated with soybean pods that fill out during an extended
period of hot weather, like last summer," the department said.
"If realised, the
soybean oil extraction rate forecast for 2012-13 would be at an all-time high."