A new rule finalized by USDA should help soybean producers avoid taking a price hit at their local elevator.

The rule removes “soybeans of other colors” (SBOC) as a grading factor determining soybean quality. 

Growers were reporting increased incidences of Corteva’s Enlist E3 soybeans discoloring due to variations in seed coat, and elevators were docking the soybeans because of the grading factor. Despite the discoloration, USDA's Federal Grain Inspection Service determined there was “no significant differences in official protein or oil results” in samples with SBOC.

The American Soybean Association, North American Export Grain Association and National Grain and Feed Association worked with USDA to remove SBOC as a grade-determining factor.

The standard for U.S. No. 1 yellow soybeans requires less than 1% of SBOC. In the last two years, levels have been slowly increasing nationwide on average from 0.3% in 2020 and growing to 0.66% in 2022 because of the high rate of adoption of the Enlist beans in the marketplace, said Virginia Houston, ASA director of government affairs.

“The problem here was not with the trait, the problem is with the standard because the U.S. is only one of two countries that has SBOC as a determining factor,” said Houston. 

Although USDA’s rule removes SBOC as a grade-determining factor, the standards retain SBOC in the definition of yellow soybeans. Houston said this allows international customers to still be sure their shipments contain unblemished yellow soybeans if desired. 

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Houston said the industry groups asked USDA to have the final rule in place by the time the new crop marketing year begins Sept. 1.

NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert also welcomed the rule.

“USDA recognizes the importance of consistent and widely recognized grade standards to the marketability of our agricultural products,” Seyfert said. The final rule “will help fulfill the intent of U.S. official grade determining factors and factor limits," he said. 

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