The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has made it official: China will accept U.S. soybean shipments even if they contain more than 1 percent of foreign material, so long as those shipments are certified.

Under a new procedure that goes into effect Jan. 1, APHIS said it will notify China if a shipment has more than 1 percent foreign material. As Agri-Pulse reported last week, China complained in September about an excessive amount of waste material, including weed seeds, in soybean shipments entering the country and USDA officials scrambled to placate the world's largest importing country.

“Chinese officials have assured the United States that this notification will allow all U.S. soybean exports to China, including those with more than 1 percent foreign material, to continue without interruption until the United States is able to fully implement a series of science-based measures from farm to export terminal, called a systems approach, during the 2018 crop year and reduce the volume of foreign material and weed seeds in soybean shipments to China,” APHIS said today.

“Working closely with our Chinese counterparts and U.S. soybean industry representatives, our top priority was to establish a new procedure that would address China’s phytosanitary concerns and keep U.S. soybeans moving without delay through China’s ports of entry,” said Greg Ibach, USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

U.S. Soybean Export Council CEO Jim Sutter said USSEC “will work together with partner organizations to promote effective implementation of the systems approach throughout the U.S. soybean supply chain, including ongoing efforts by our organization to promote the development of timely, science-based technologies that U.S. farmers need to produce the best quality product possible.” Sutter said USSEC is “confident that this agreement will allow U.S. soybean farmers and exporters to continue to service the important Chinese market without interruption.”

And Randy Gordon, President and CEO of the National Grain and Feed Association, said NGFA plans to work with APHIS and other stakeholders in the U.S. “soybean value chain” to come up with the “components of the systems approach, including weed seed control best practices to be implemented on-farm, starting with the 2018 soybean growing season.”

APHIS said it will work with federal, state, and university experts to develop “specific recommendations based on weed seed control best practices. The recommendations will include production and harvesting measures designed to reduce weed seed contamination at the farm level.” APHIS plans to provide the recommendations to soybean producers before the start of the 2018 growing season.

USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) will sample bulk and container shipments bound for China to determine the amount of weed seeds. If a consignment exceeds 1 percent, FGIS will attach a certificate.

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) “has agreed to expedite agricultural clearance of shipments with 1 percent or less foreign material,” APHIS said. “They will determine whether any phytosanitary measures including inspection, cleaning, treatment or other protective actions may be appropriate to mitigate pest risk in shipments with more than 1 percent foreign material.”

APHIS said that AQSIQ “will not hold or unnecessarily delay incoming shipments based solely on the volume of foreign material.”

U.S. soybean exports are down, both to China and worldwide. For the week ending Nov. 30, U.S. 2017/18 soybean export commitments (outstanding sales plus accumulated exports) to China totaled 20.7 million tons compared to 27.2 million a year ago, according to a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service report released this month. Total commitments to the world are 36.3 million tons, compared to 43.1 million for the same period last year.


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